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Re: Our current understanding of Mesozoic bird phylogeny

Hou mentions it in the description, which wasn't translated at the time I made my reconstruction. I'm guessing I assumed maxillary teeth to be present and they were too small to make out of dotted lines. Really my reconstructions of Hou's (2000) birds are hindered by optimistic placement of fragments and Hou's terrible illustrations.

So, should we trust the interpretation of a toothless maxilla? :^)

I think the apparent sternal keel in the illustration is actually the
sacrum. [...]


Hou notes "Dorsal to the
sternum there are extremely well preserved impressions of five to six dorsal vertebrae ... Posterior to the dorsals are at least seven sacral vertebrae basically composing a synsacrum. The centra are fused although their count is still discernible. A single unified synsacrum is rare among the Early Cretaceous taxa. There is a narrow ventral crest on the synsacrum and a relatively deep longitudinal groove lies laterally on the centra between the relatively expanded parapophyses."

Doesn't that sound odd for a sacrum? Could it be yet another case of a sternum lying on top of the dorsal vertebral column, the shape of which is pressed through?

I hope the holotype is described decently. The main important features noted by the authors (prefrontal, postorbital-jugal contact) are probably not real. Same goes for Dalingheornis and it's supposed heterodactly. Then there's Dapingfangornis and it's supposed horn. Ughh... what an annoying trend.

Someone will have to go to China and produce a great big monograph...