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RE: New Papers on 34th Street




Firstly, thanks for the kind soul who sent me a PDF.

Secondly, when it comes to the ecomorphology of _Archaeopteryx_, the paper is 
way off the mark.  Way, way, way.  The stuff on the paleoecology of the 
Solnhofen Formation is interesting enough; but the claims made about the 
lifestyle of _Archaeopteryx_ (especially how it 'fits' into this paleoecology) 
ring very hollow indeed.  And, to add insult to injury, Burnham clings to the 
old "trees-down" versus "ground-up" tug-of-war.  From reading the discussion, I 
think Burnham are arguing that the entire "ground-up" argument was predicated 
on the absence of tall trees in the Solnhofen habitat; and since Solnhofen had 
trees after all, then it follows that the "ground-up" hypothesis must be wrong. 
 Or something like that.  

I wrote:

> I'm especially intrigued as to how its "climbing ability far outweighed its 
> putative cursorial attributes". 
> The cursorial abilities of _Archaeopteryx_ are "putative". Hm.

According to Burnham...

"Furthermore, _Archaeopteryx_ possesses no clear adaptation [sic] as a runner 
(MARTIN 1983, 1991; YALDEN 1985, 1997); however, it does have anatomical 
features that suggest tree climbing and a sprawling posture (MARTIN 1991; 
LONGRICH 2006) and strongly implies arboreality. The sprawling hindlimbs and 
tibial feathers of _Archaeopteryx_ also reflect that it evolved from a 
sprawling ancestor that was also a glider."

_Archaeopteryx_ had "no clear adaptation as a runner" my ass.  _Archaeopteryx_ 
"evolved from a sprawling ancestor" my ass.

And so it goes...

"In fact, the known cursors represented by the small compsognathid dinosaurs 
are extremely rare and
possibly utilized the patchy, open areas (e.g. trackway described by PFORRINGER 
2000) within the forested landmasses further from the shoreline. Since 
_Archaeopteryx_ has feathered hindlimbs (Fig. 7)
(BEEBE 1915; CHRISTENSEN & BONDE 2004; LONGRICH 2006) and was probably arboreal 
(MARTIN 1983, 1991; FEDUCCIA 1993; LONGRICH 2006), it could not have possibly 
come from the same niche (DAVIS 1996) as compsognathids (_Juravenator_, 
_Compsognathus_), which have quite different locomotory adaptations (short arms 
and robust hindlimbs) and also have scaled integument, some of which is 
preserved on their tails (GOHLICH & CHIAPPE 2006; GOHLICH et al. 2006; PEYER 
2006), rather than feathers."

The same boilerplate.  
Theropods-had-short-arms-so-they-could-never-evolve-flight, etc.

The paper concludes with some hand-waving about how because _Microraptor_ has 
"fundamental
avian attributes" it must therefore be a bird.  I don't full understand the 
logic, probably because there isn't any.  Anyway, this paper apparently formed 
part of the PhD research for the author, under the supervision of L. Martin.  

Cheers

Tim




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