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Re: The Mystery of "Kaosaurus"

Adam Pritchard wrote:

> I discovered a description of a Late Cretaceous marine
> reptile from Niger, named in the pdf as Kaosaurus
> spiniferus.  
> The animal resembles a sea turtle with an
> extremely strange carapace anatomy.  The strangest thing,
> especially considering the recent description of
> Odontochelys, is the very rough phylogenetic tree in the
> paper, which finds "Kaosaurus" as the sister taxon
> to Testudines.  

As the material is from the end of the Cretaceous, having "Kaosaurus" as the 
sister taxon to Testudines requires an enormously long ghost lineage, 
stretching back to the Triassic (as the "cladogram"/cladogramme" makes clear).

> I contacted Olivier Rieppel on the animal,
> and he thought it seemed to fragmentary to say much about
> it.  He had not heard of "Kaosaurus" or any of the
> authors.  

It does seem VERY fragmentary, doesn't it?

> The paper has a corresponding website with some images of
> the animal and some other finds from the area.  The site
> describes the discovery site in depth as well as some other
> local vertebrates (mosasaurs, fish.)  The strangest thing I
> found on the site was the authors describing their
> publication of the findings on CD only: it did not sound
> like a method that the ICZN would recognize or one
> distributed to the paleontological community.  

Yes.  It seems that the article was not not submitted to any scientific 
journal, and that this may be a way to bypass a formal publication process 
(including peer review).  As it stands, the name "Kaosaurus" is almost 
certainly invalid (nomen nudum).

> The paper is at:
> http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00177285/en/
> The author's site is:
> http://cretace-niger.site.voila.fr/
> Just thought I would put this discovery out in the open,
> for whatever it's worth.  I would love to hear
> everyone's comments on this strangeness.

There's a lot to be suspicious about...  I'll leave it at that.  :-)