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Race to New Papers Mountain

Great heaping gobs of new papers to list...apologies if any of these are 

Perrichot, V., and Giradr, V. 2009. A unique piece of amber and the complexity 
of ancient forest ecosystems. Palaios 24(3):137-139. doi: 10.2110/palo.2009.S02.

Bader, K.S., Hasiotis, S.T., and Martin, L.D. 2009. Application of forensic 
science techniques to trace fossils on dinosaur bones from a quarry in the 
Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation, northeastern Wyoming. Palaios 24(3):140-158. 
doi: 10.2110/palo.2008.p08-058r.

ABSTRACT: Trace fossils on sauropod skeletons from a quarry in fluvial deposits 
of the Morrison Formation, Wyoming, are used to reconstruct the taphonomic 
history of the dinosaur bone accumulation. Shallow pits; rosettes; 
hemispherical pits; thin, curvilinear, branching grooves; and U- to V-shaped 
linear grooves make up trace fossils found on sauropod skeletons. The traces 
were interpreted by comparisons to traces on modern bone. Rosettes are circular 
rings of modified bone and are likely an early stage in the production of 
shallow pits. They are interpreted as pupation chambers constructed in dried 
flesh in contact with sauropod bone. Hemispherical pits are circular with a 
U-shaped cross section and interpreted as dermestid pupation chambers completed 
in sauropod bone. Thin, curvilinear, branching grooves are semicircular in 
cross section, form irregular dendritic or looping patterns, and are 
interpreted as root etchings. U- to V-shaped linear grooves are interpreted as 
theropod or crocodilian bite marks. Skeletal articulation and condition and 
distribution of bone modification traces suggest the skeletons accumulated at 
this site over no more than 3.5 years, with the bulk of the skeletons 
contributed during the dry season in the final 3â6 months. Carcasses went 
through all stages of decompositionâincluding the dry stage, represented by 
shallow pits, rosettes, and hemispherical pits. Vertebrate scavengers and 
necrophagous arthropods fed on the carcasses during all decomposition stages 
prior to burial of the assemblage.

Dodson, P. 2009. Darwin and the dinosaurs. American Paleontologist 17(1):33-36. 

Doube, M., Conroy, A.W., Christiansen, P., Hutchinson, J.R., and Shefelbine, S. 
2009. Three-dimenstional geometric analysis of felid limb bone allometry. PLoS 
ONE 4(3):e4742. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004742.

ABSTRACT: Background
Studies of bone allometry typically use simple measurements taken in a small 
number of locations per bone; often the midshaft diameter or joint surface area 
is compared to body mass or bone length. However, bones must fulfil multiple 
roles simultaneously with minimum cost to the animal while meeting the 
structural requirements imposed by behaviour and locomotion, and not exceeding 
its capacity for adaptation and repair. We use entire bone volumes from the 
forelimbs and hindlimbs of Felidae (cats) to investigate regional complexities 
in bone allometry.
Method/Principal Findings
Computed tomographic (CT) images (16435 slices in 116 stacks) were made of 9 
limb bones from each of 13 individuals of 9 feline species ranging in size from 
domestic cat (Felis catus) to tiger (Panthera tigris). Eleven geometric 
parameters were calculated for every CT slice and scaling exponents calculated 
at 5% increments along the entire length of each bone. Three-dimensional 
moments of inertia were calculated for each bone volume, and spherical radii 
were measured in the glenoid cavity, humeral head and femoral head. Allometry 
of the midshaft, moments of inertia and joint radii were determined. Allometry 
was highly variable and related to local bone function, with joint surfaces and 
muscle attachment sites generally showing stronger positive allometry than the 
Examining whole bones revealed that bone allometry is strongly affected by 
regional variations in bone function, presumably through mechanical effects on 
bone modelling. Bone's phenotypic plasticity may be an advantage during rapid 
evolutionary divergence by allowing exploitation of the full size range that a 
morphotype can occupy. Felids show bone allometry rather than postural change 
across their size range, unlike similar-sized animals.

Consoli, C.P., and Stilwell, J.D. 2009. Late Cretaceous marine reptiles 
(Elasmosauridae and Mosasauridae) of the Chatham Islands, New Zealand. 
Cretaceous Research. doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2009.02.009.

ABSTRACT: A new marine reptile record for the Upper Cretaceous of the Chatham 
Islands is described from the Takatika Grit. Incomplete mosasaur and plesiosaur 
remains represent the first record of marine reptiles from the Chatham Islands 
and wider New Zealand. Present among the myriad bones are elasmosaurid 
plesiosaurs and mosasaurine mosasaurs. This assemblage is comparable to the New 
Zealand marine reptile record and represents apex predators that flourished in 
a zone of upwelling in a Late Cretaceous southern high-latitude ecosystem.

Clemente, C.J., Thompson, G.G., and Withers, P.C. 2009. Evolutionary 
relationships of sprint speed in Australian varanid lizards. Journal of 
Zoology. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00559.x.

ABSTRACT: Ecomorphological studies often seek to link morphology and 
performance to relevant ecological characteristics. Varanid lizards are unique 
in that species can vary in body size by almost four orders of magnitude within 
a single genus, and a question of considerable interest is whether similar 
ecomorphological relationships exist when constraints on body size are reduced. 
We studied sprint speed in relation to size, shape and ecology for 18 species 
of varanid lizards. Maximal speed scaled positively with mass0.166 using least 
squares regression, and mass0.21 using reduced major-axis regression. However, 
a curvilinear trend better described this relationship, suggesting an optimal 
mass of 2.83 kg with respect to speed. Including data for the komodo dragon 
Varanus komodoensis moves the optimum mass to 2.23 kg. We use this relationship 
to predict the sprint speed of the Komodo's giant extinct relative Varanus 
(Megalania) prisca to be 2.6â3 m sâ1 similar to that of extant freshwater 
crocodiles Crocodylus johnstoni. When differences in speed were compared to 
ecological characteristics, species from open habitats were significantly 
faster than species from semi-open or closed habitat types, and remained so 
after correction for size and phylogeny. Thus, despite large variation in body 
size, varanids appear to share similar associations between performance and 
ecology as seen in other lizard groups. Varanids did, however, differ in 
morphological relationships with sprint speed. Differences in relative speed 
were not related to relative hindlimb length, as is commonly reported for other 
lizard groups. Instead, size-free forefoot length was negatively related to 
speed as was the size-free thoraxâabdomen length. While shorter forefeet were 
thought to be an adaptation to burrowing, and thus open habitats, rather than 
speed per se, the reduction in the thoraxâabdomen length may have significant 
advantages to increasing speed. Biomechanical models predicting this advantage 
are discussed in relation to !
a trade-o

Rich, T.H., Vickers-Rich, P., Flannery, T.F., Kear, B.P., Cantrill, D.J., 
Komarower, P., Kool, L., Pickering, D., Trusler, P., Morton, S., van Klaveren, 
N., and Fitzgerald, E.M.G. 2009. An Australian multitubercular and its 
palaeobiogeographic implications. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 54(1):1-6.

ABSTRACT: A dentary fragment containing a tiny left plagiaulacoid fourth lower 
premolar from the Early Cretaceous (Aptian) of Victoria provides the first 
evidence of the Multituberculata from Australia. This unique specimen 
represents a new genus and species, Corriebaatar marywaltersae, and is placed 
in a new family, Corriebaataridae. The Australian fossil, together with meagre 
records of multituberculates from South America, Africa, and Madagascar, 
reinforces the view that Multituberculata had a cosmopolitan distribution 
during the Mesozoic, with dispersal into eastern Gondwana probably occurring 
prior to enforcement of climatic barriers (indicated by marked differentiation 
in regional floras) in the Early Cretaceous.

Butler, R.J., and Sullivan, R.M. 2009. The phylogenetic position of the 
ornithischian dinosaur Stenopelix valdensis from the Lower Cretaceous of 
Germany: implications for the early fossil record of Pachycephalosauria. Acta 
Palaeontologica Polonica 54(1):21-34.

ABSTRACT: The holotype of Stenopelix valdensis is the most completely known 
dinosaur specimen from the âWealdenâ (Lower Cretaceous) of northwestern 
Germany, but its phylogenetic position has remained highly controversial. Most 
recent authors have suggested affinities with the ornithischian clade 
Marginocephalia, and most commonly to the marginocephalian subclade 
Pachycephalosauria. A pachycephalosaurian identity would make Stenopelix the 
only confirmed preâLate Cretaceous member of this clade, breaking up an 
extensive ghost lineage which extends to the inferred origin of 
Pachycephalosauria in the MiddleâLate Jurassic. Based upon reâexamination 
of the holotype we here review the characters that have previously been used to 
assign Stenopelix to either Pachycephalosauria or Ceratopsia. All of these 
characters are problematic, being based upon inaccurate anatomical 
interpretations, or having more widespread distributions within Ornithischia 
than previously realised. We conclude that although the overall anatomy of 
Stenopelix is consistent with marginocephalian affinities, there is 
insufficient evidence to support referral to either Pachycephalosauria or 
Ceratopsia; we consider Stenopelix ?Marginocephalia. A brief review indicates 
that there is no compelling fossil evidence for pachycephalosaurs prior to the 
Late Cretaceous.

Barrett, P.M., Butler, R.J., Wang, X.-L., and Xu, X. 2009. Cranial anatomy of 
the iguanodontoid ornithopod Jinzhousaurus yangi from the Lower Cretaceous 
Yixian Formation of China. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 54(1):35-48.

ABSTRACT: The Yixian Formation (Lower Cretaceous) of Liaoning Province, China, 
is justifiably famous for its exceptionally preserved fauna, which includes a 
remarkable diversity of nonâavian dinosaurs. Here, we provide the first 
detailed description of the cranial skeleton of the iguanodontian ornithopod 
Jinzhousaurus yangi. Many previously unrecorded features have been recognised, 
permitting a new and more robust diagnosis for this taxon, which is based on a 
suite of autapomorphic features. Jinzhousaurus and an unnamed sauropod 
represent the largest, but some of the least abundant, animals in the Jehol 
Biota, a situation that contrasts with many other Lower Cretaceous faunas in 
which large dinosaurs are common faunal components. This rarity may be due to 
either palaeoenvironmental constraints or taphonomic bias, although it is not 
possible to choose between these alternatives on the basis of current data.

Hirasawa, T. 2009. The ligamental scar in the costovertebral articulation of 
the tyrannosaurid dinosaurs. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 54(1):49-59.

ABSTRACT: The costovertebral articulation is integral to constrain the thoracic 
kinematics and to infer the breathing mechanism in the respect with costal 
aspiration. However, the structure of the costovertebral articulation in 
nonâavian theropods has not been studied in great detail before. This study 
highlights the Tyrannosauridae, which is represented by numerous complete 
specimens. Costovertebral articulations of ten tyrannosaurid specimens, 
including two nearly inâsitu articulated fossils, were investigated and 
compared with those in extant Archosauria. For extant archosaurs, dissections 
were conducted to rationalize the soft tissue anatomy in tyrannosaurids. This 
study shows that the rib articulates ventrally or posteroventrally with the 
distal end of the corresponding vertebral transverse process in the 
tyrannosaurid ribcage. A ligament (ligamentum costotransversarium) can be 
reconstructed to connect the rib tuberculum to the transverse process in each 
articulation. The scar for lig. costotransversarium is recognizable in many 
theropod skeletons, and this rugosity can be used to identify the rotational 
axis for the rib. This result provides a cornerstone for exploring the 
evolution of the ribcage and breathing mechanisms across the theropod lineage 
leading to birds.

Diedrich, C. 2009. The vertebrates of the Anisian/Ladinian boundary (Middle 
Triassic) from Bissendorf (NW Germany) and their contribution to the anatomy, 
palaeoecology, and palaeobiogeography of the Germanic Basin reptiles. 
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 273(1-2):1-16. doi: 

ABSTRACT: Systematically excavated bones are described from Bissendorf 
(OsnabrÃcker Bergland, north-western Germany). The bone bed in the compressus 
zone of the Ceratitenschichten (MeiÃner Fm, Upper Muschelkalk, 
Anisian/Ladinian boundary, Middle Triassic) was dated by ceratites. 
Sedimentologically, it is a bioclastic rudstone built mainly from Coenothyris 
vulgaris brachiopods, which were heavily compressed into a 3 mm thin layer. 
Parts of the bone bed and the following 15 cm of autochthonous mud were 
partially eroded synsedimentary by the compressus storm event. The material of 
the not-rich bone bed in the Germanic Upper Muschelkalk consists of isolated 
teeth or fin spines from five well-known shark species: Hybodus longiconus 
Agassiz, 1843, Acrodus lateralis Agassiz, 1837, Acrodus gaillardoti Agassiz, 
1837, Palaeobates angustissimus Agassiz, 1838 and Polyacrodus polycyphus 
Agassiz, 1837. Teeth and scales from the teleosteans Gyrolepis sp, Dollopterus 
sp., Colobodus maximus, Quenstedt, 1835, C. frequens, Dames [Dames, W., 1888. 
Die Ganoiden des Deutschen Muschelkalkes. Palaeontologische Abhandlungen 4, 
133â180] and Saurichthys sp. have been proved. Found were mostly vertebra 
centra and ribs, but also teeth and some other postcranial bones from the small 
pachypleurosaurs Anarosaurus sp. as well as mostly Neusticosaurus sp. These 
originated from adult and juvenile animals which indicates the primary habitat 
and populations of this region. Large marine nothosaur reptiles found include 
Nothosaurus cf. mirabilis MÃnster, 1834, and N. giganteus MÃnster, 1834. 
Proof of two placodonts is given thanks to Placodus gigas Agassiz, 1833 and 
Cyamodus sp. Finally, a tooth from the terrestrial lepidosaur Tanystrophaeus 
longibardicus (Bassani, 1866) is the northerly most sample found. The recorded 
fauna is well-known with complete skeletons of the described species from the 
northern Tethys (Mte. San Giorgio, Switzerland). The reptile skeletons are 
presented here in reconstruction. The bone bed composition in Bissen!
dorf show
in the younger and more terrestrial mixed as well as the age difference in bone 
beds of northern (enodis/posseckeri zone) and southern Germany (dorsoplanus 
zone). At Bissendorf, only nearly complete marine vertebrates occur within the 
maximum high stand. High marine ichthyosaurs seem to be absent, indicating a 
shallow marine position in the western Germanic Basin.

Vullo, R., BernÃrdez, E., and Buscalioni, A.D. 2009. Vertebrates from the 
middle?âlate Cenomanian La CabaÃa Formation (Asturias, northern Spain): 
Palaeoenvironmental and palaeobiogeographic implications. Palaeogeography, 
Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.03.004.

ABSTRACT: The Asturian La CabaÃa Formation, middle?âlate Cenomanian in age, 
has yielded a rich and diverse assemblage of vertebrate microremains. The fauna 
consists of both marine and continental forms, including chimaeroids, various 
selachians and actinopterygians, chelonians, crocodilians, plesiosaurs, 
pterosaurs, sauropod dinosaurs, and marine squamates. This mixed assemblage of 
autochthonous (coastal) and allochthonous (continental) elements comes mainly 
from a transgressive lag occurring near the base of the formation. It also 
contains some remains which are probably reworked from older middle Cenomanian 
deposits. Palaeontological, taphonomic, and sedimentologic data indicate a 
shallow platform and marine lagoon, with addition of some continental elements. 
A comparison with the late Cenomanian vertebrate assemblage of Charentes 
(southwestern France) shows numerous similarities between both areas. Some 
taxa, only known from Asturias and Charentes (e.g., the aigialosaur 
Carentonosaurus), suggest that the opening Bay of Biscay may have constituted a 
palaeobiogeographic area characterized by endemism during the mid-Cretaceous.

Ruban, D.A., Zerfass, H., and Pugatchev, V.I. 2009. Triassic synthems of 
southern South America (southwestern Gondwana) and the Western Caucasus (the 
northern Neotethys), and global tracing of their boundaries. Journal of South 
American Earth Sciences. doi: 10.1016/j.jsames.2009.03.003.

ABSTRACT: Global tracing of the key surfaces of Triassic deposits may 
contribute significantly to the understanding of the common patterns in their 
accumulation. We attempt to define synthems â disconformity-bounded 
sedimentary complexes â in the Triassic successions of southern South America 
(southwestern Gondwana, Brazil and Argentina) and the Western Caucasus (the 
northern Neotethys, Russia), and then to trace their boundaries in the adjacent 
regions and globally. In southern South America, a number of synthems have been 
recognized - the Cuyo Basin: the RÄÂo Mendoza-Cerro de las Cabras Synthem 
(Olenekian-Ladinian) and the Potrerillos-Cacheuta-RÄÂo Blanco Synthem 
(Carnian-Rhaetian); the Ischigualasto Basin: the Ischichuca-Los Rastros Synthem 
(Anisian-Ladinian) and the Ischigualasto-Los Colorados Synthem 
(Carnian-Rhaetian); the Chaco-Paranà Basin: the Sanga do Cabral Synthem 
(Induan), the Santa Maria 1 Synthem (Ladinian), the Santa Maria 2 Synthem 
(Carnian), and the Caturrita Synthem (Norian); western Argentina: the Talampaya 
Synthem (Lower Triassic) and the Tarjados Synthem (Olenekian?). In the Western 
Caucasus, three common synthems have been distinguished: WC-1 (Induan-Anisian), 
WC-2 (uppermost Anisian-Carnian), and WC-3 (Norian-lower Rhaetian). The lower 
boundary of WC-1 corresponds to a hiatus whose duration seems to be shorter 
than previously postulated. The synthem boundaries common to southwestern 
Gondwana and the Western Caucasus lie close to the base and top of the 
Triassic. The Lower Triassic, Ladinian, and Upper Triassic disconformities are 
traced within the studied basins of southern South America, and the first two 
are also established in South Africa. The Upper Triassic disconformity is only 
traced within the entire Caucasus, whereas all synthem boundaries established 
in the Western Caucasus are traced partly within Europe. In general, the 
synthem boundaries recognized in southern South America and the Western 
Caucasus are correlated to the global Triassic sequence boundaries and!
falls. Although regional peculiarities are superimposed on the appearance of 
global events in the Triassic synthem architecture, the successful global 
tracing suggests that planetary-scale mechanisms of synthem formation existed 
and that they were active in regions dominated by both marine and non-marine 

O'Connor, J.K., Wang, X., Chiappe, L.M., Gao, C., Meng, Q., Cheng, X., and Liu, 
J. 2009. Phylogenetic support for a specialized clade of Cretaceous 
enantiornithine birds with information from a new species. Journal of 
Vertebrate Paleontology 29(1):188-204.

ABSTRACT: A new species of enantiornithine bird from the Lower Cretaceous 
Yixian Formation of northeastern China is reported. The new taxon, Shanweiniao 
cooperorum, possesses several enantiornithine synapomorphies as well as the 
elongate rostral morphology (rostrum equal to or exceeding 60% the total length 
of the skull) of the Chinese early Cretaceous enantiornithines, Longipteryx 
chaoyangensis and Longirostravis hani. The discovery of this new specimen 
highlights the existence of a diverse clade of trophically specialized 
enantiornithines, Longipterygidae, for which we present phylogenetic support in 
a new comprehensive cladistic analysis of Mesozoic birds. Shanweiniao provides 
new information on the anatomy of longipterygids, and preserves a rectricial 
morphology previously unknown to enantiornithines, with at least four tail 
feathers closely arranged. This supports the hypothesis that enantiornithines 
were strong fliers and adds to the diversity of known tail morphologies of 
these Cretaceous birds.

Kellner, A.W.A., Pinheiro, A.E.P., Azevedo, S.A.K., Henriques, D.D.R., de 
Carvalho, L.B., and Oliveira, G.R. 2009. A new crocodyliform from the 
AlcÃntara Formation (Cenomanian), Cajual Island, Brazil. Zootaxa 2030:49-58.

ABSTRACT: A new mesoeucrocodylian (Crocodyliformes) is described from the Laje 
do Coringa site, earliest Late Cretaceous (early Cenomanian) of the SÃo LuÃs 
Basin, northeastern Brazil. Due to the likely hetorodonty indicated by distinct 
alveoli shapes, Coringasuchus anisodontis gen. et sp. nov. is tentatively 
referred to the Notosuchia and distinguished from other members of this clade 
by the presence of obliquely implanted teeth with the main axis directed 
anterolingually-toposterolabially and the presence of alveoli that are 
distinctively raised above the level of the dorsal margin of the dentary. The 
material further confirms the interpretation that the fossil concentration of 
the Laje do Coringa site is the result of multiple reworking events from 
previous deposits, but the degree of time-averaging was possibly higher than 
previously suspected.

Vargas, A.O., and Wagner, G.P. 2009. Frame-shifts of digit identity in bird 
evolution and Cyclopamine-treated wings. Evolution & Development 11(2):163-169. 
doi: 10.1111/j.1525-142X.2009.00317.x.

ABSTRACT: A highly conserved spatio-temporal pattern of cartilage formation 
reveals that the digits of the bird wing develop from positions that become 
digits 2, 3, and 4 in other amniotes. However, the morphology of the digits of 
early birds like Archaeopteryx corresponds to that of digits 1, 2, and 3 of 
other archosaurs. A hypothesis is that a homeotic "frame-shift" occurred, such 
that in the bird wing, digits 1, 2, and 3 develop from the embryological 
positions of digits 2, 3, and 4. Experimental homeotic transformations of 
single digits are well-documented, but frame-shifts of more than one digit are 
not. We investigated the pattern of cartilage formation in the development of 
Cyclopamine-treated wings. When Cyclopamine was applied between stages 18 and 
21, morphologies that normally develop from positions 2 and 3 developed from 
positions 3 and 4. The serial shift of digit identity toward posterior confirms 
a mechanistic possibility that was previously inferred from the evolutionary 
history of birds.

Schmitt, S. 2009. Haeckel, un darwinien allemand? Comptes Rendus Biologies 
332(2-3):110-118. doi: 10.1016/j.crvi.2008.07.006.

ABSTRACT: German biologist Ernst Haeckel (1834â1919) is often considered the 
most renowned Darwinian in his country since, as early as 1862, he declared 
that he accepted the conclusions Darwin had reached three years before in On 
the Origin of Species, and afterwards, he continuously proclaimed himself a 
supporter of the English naturalist and championed the evolutionary theory. 
Nevertheless, if we examine carefully his books, in particular his General 
Morphology (1866), we can see that he carries on a tradition very far from 
Darwin's thoughts. In spite of his acceptance of the idea of natural selection, 
that he establishes as an argument for materialism, he adopts, indeed, a 
conception of evolution that is, in some respects, rather close to Lamarck's 
views. He is, thus, a good example of the ambiguities of the reception of 
Darwinism in Germany in the second part of the 19th century.

de RicqlÃs, A., and Padian, K. 2009. Quelques apports à la thÃorie de 
l'Ãvolution, de la "SynthÃse orthodoxe" Ã la "Super synthÃse Ãvo-dÃvo? 
1970-2009: un point de vue. Comptes Rendus Palevol 8(2-3):341-364. doi: 

ABSTRACT: The âModern Synthesisâ of evolutionary biology coalesced and 
revitalized evolutionary theory beginning in the 1930s. It stressed the 
explanatory power of natural selection and gradual change to account for the 
processes that govern natural populations today, as well as patterns in the 
history of life. In the past 40 years, the synthesis has been challenged on 
various fronts ranging from paleontology to developmental biology, systematics, 
biogeography, and molecular and developmental biology. Several of its central 
propositions have been modified and expanded as a result. How well the 
synthesis continues to be effective will depend on its continued ability to 
test its central propositions and the efficacy of its central mechanisms, 
particularly on the basis of new evidence from emerging fields of study.

Badlangana, N.L., Adams, J.W., and Manger, P.R. 2009. The giraffe (Giraffa 
camelopardalis) cervical vertebral column: a heuristic example in understanding 
evolutionary processes? Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 
155(3):736-757. doi: 10.1111/j.1096-3642.2008.00458.x.

ABSTRACT: The current study considers the osteological morphology of the 
giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) vertebral column, with emphasis on evaluating 
both the adaptive and constraining features compared with other ungulates as a 
heuristic example in understanding evolutionary processes. Vertebral columns of 
giraffes varying in age from calf to adult were studied in order to understand 
the potential evolutionary scenarios that might have led to the modern 
phenotype. Data from the giraffe sample were then compared with the results 
from several other ungulate species, including the okapi and two species of 
camelids that also have visibly elongated necks. Our results show that the 
elongated neck of the modern giraffe appears to specifically result from 
evolutionary changes affecting the seven cervical vertebrae, independent of the 
remainder of the vertebral column. The cervical vertebrae comprise over half of 
the length of the total vertebral column in the giraffe. The increases in 
cervical vertebrae lengths also appear to be allometrically constrained, with 
alterations in the overall length of the neck resulting from the elongation of 
the entire cervical series, rather than from a single vertebra or subset of 
vertebrae. We place our results in the context of hypotheses concerning the 
origin and evolution of the giraffe neck, and the evolution of long necks in a 
broader sense.

White, M.A. 2009. The subarctometatarsus: intermediate metatarsus architecture 
demonstrating the evolution of the arctometatarsus and advanced agility in 
theropod dinosaurs. Alcheringa 33(1):1-21. doi: 10.1080/03115510802618193.

ABSTRACT: The subarctometatarsus is a plesiomorphic form of arctometatarsus. 
Five individual subarctometatarsalian specimens are examined in this study 
including Microraptor gui, Sinornithosaurus millenii, Sinovenator changii, 
Sinovenator sp. and Sinornithoides youngi. Bivariate analysis illustrates a 
closer relationship between subarctometatarsalians and small theropods 
possessing the plesiomorphic theropod metatarsus (e.g. Compsognathidae and 
Archaeopteryx). Reduced major axis (RMA) analysis supported this conclusion but 
also indicates a distinct statistical difference between the three categories 
of theropod metatarsus. Additionally, development of the subarctometatarsus is 
inferred to have been linked to advanced cursoriality as implicated for the 
arctometatarsus. Structural similarity between the subarctometatarsus and the 
arctometatarsus portrays a common mechanical function of being able to 
withstand the forces of high impact with the substrate. Phylogenetic analysis 
reveals five independent origins of the arctometatarsus.

Zhang, Z.-Q., Gao, C., Meng, Q., Liu, J., Hou, L., and Zheng, G. 2009. 
Diversification in an Early Cretaceous avian genus: evidence from a new species 
of Confuciusornis from China. Journal of Ornithology. doi: 

ABSTRACT: A new species of Confuciusornis, the oldest known beaked bird, is 
erected based on a nearly complete fossil from the Early Cretaceous Yixian 
Formation of western Liaoning, northeast China. C. feducciai is the largest and 
shows the highest ratio of the forelimb to the hindlimb among all known species 
of Confuciusornis. The skeletal qualitative autapomorphies, including a 
V-shaped furcula, a rectangular deltopectoral crest, the absence of an oval 
foramen at the proximal end of the humerus, the very slender alular digit, a 
relatively much longer ischium which is two-thirds the length of the pubis, and 
the morphology of sternum, strongly suggest the new specimen is a valid 
distinctive taxon. Detailed comparison with other described species provides 
sound evidence for diversification in the Early Cretaceous avian genus 
Confuciusornis. Anatomical features suggest an arboreal habit of the new bird.

Sullivan, C., Hone, D.W.E., Cope, T.D., Liu, Y., and Liu, J. 2009. A new 
occurrence of small theropod tracks in the Houcheng (Tuchengzi) Formation of 
Hebei Province, China. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 47(1):35-52.

ABSTRACT: Small theropod footprints have been known from the 
Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary strata of northeastern China for several decades, 
although these ichnofossils have been overshadowed by the feathered dinosaurs 
and other body fossils from the Yixian Formation of Liaoning Province. This 
paper describes a sample of several theropod footprints from a coarse fluvial 
deposit at Nanshuangmiao, in the lowermost Houcheng (Tuchengzi) Formation of 
Hebei Province. The Nanshuangmiao tracks exhibit a tridactyl, pachydactylous 
morphology corresponding to classic "brontozoid" ichnites (Grallator, 
Anchisauripus and Eubrontes) from the Lower Jurassic of the United States of 
America. Although many brontozoid tracks from the roughly equivalent Tuchengzi 
of Liaoning have been previously assigned to the small ichnogenus Grallator, as 
G. ssatoi, the Nanshuangmiao tracks are larger (up to 28.8 cm total length) and 
are probably referable to Anchisauripus. The Nanshuangmiao tracks were most 
likely produced by small theropods travelling in a group. Of the abundant 
theropod taxa known from the Yixian Formation of Liaoning, the small 
oviraptorosaur Caudipteryx is the most plausible trackmaker, but this 
interpretation remains uncertain because of a lack of diagnostic features in 
the tracks and because of the temporal and geographic gap between the Houcheng 
of Hebei and the Yixian of Liaoning.

Evans, S.E., and Wang, Y. 2009. A long-limbed lizard from the Upper 
Jurassic/Lower Cretaceous of Daohugou, Ningcheng, Nei Mongol, China. Vertebrata 
PalAsiatica 47(1):21-34.

ABSTRACT: Lizards are now relatively well known from the Jehol Group of 
northeastern China, seven taxa having been named from the group or equivalent 
horizons. Here we describe a lizard specimen from a fossil horizon at Daohugou 
of Ningcheng, Nei Mongol, which predates the Yixian Formation of the Jehol 
Group. This is the second lizard from this locality. Comparisons with 
ontogenetic series of modern lizards show that the new Daohugou lizard is a 
juvenile. The specimen is notable in having a slender body and relatively long 
limbs and extremities. Even allowing for immaturity, its proportions differ 
markedly from those of previously described Jehol Biota lizards. Comparison 
with modern lizards suggests the new Daohugou lizard may have been at least 
partly scansorial. Its phylogenetic placement is problematic given its 
immaturity and preservation, but skull characters and vertebral number preclude 
attribution to Iguania and it may be a scleroglossan.

Wu, X.-C., Cheng, Y.-N., Sato, T., and Shan, H.-Y. 2009. Miodentosaurus brevis 
Cheng et al., 2007 (Diapsida: Thalattosauria): its postcranial skeleton and 
phylogenetic relationships. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 47(1):1-20.

ABSTRACT: Miodentosaurus brevis was first established on the basis of the skull 
and mandible of a fairly preserved skeleton from the Triassic Falang Formation, 
Guanling area, Guizhou Province. The description of the postcranial skeleton 
reveals that M. brevis is also distinct in the morphology of its girdle 
elements, such as the coracoid with a small embayment just posterior to the 
glenoid, interclavicle becoming much narrower posteriorly than anteriorly, and 
the ilium having a dorsal blade with a expanded distal end. With a further 
preparation, some of the skull anatomy are redescribed. Based on new 
information from both skull and the postcranial skeleton, the diagnosis of the 
taxon is revised. A phylogenetic analysis suggests that M. brevis is an 
askeptosauroid, closely related to Askeptosaurus from Switzerland and Italy on 
the basis of two unequivocal synapomorphies, a retroarticular process broader 
than long and a reduced deltopectoral crest in the humerus. 

Pole, M., and Vajda, V. 2009. A new terrestrial Cretaceous-Paleogene site in 
New Zealandâturnover in macroflora confirmed by palynology. Cretaceous 
Research. doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2009.02.007.

ABSTRACT: A fluvial sequence near Cave Stream (north of Castle Hill Village, 
central Canterbury), New Zealand, contains organically-preserved plant 
macrofossils (cuticles). The almost ubiquitous presence of Araucariaceae 
macrofossils in the lower part of the section and their stratigraphic 
disappearance roughly coincident with the appearance of the angiosperm leaf 
Dryandra comptoniaefolia and conifer taxa only known elsewhere from sediments 
of Paleogene age, indicates that the section spans the Cretaceous-Paleogene 
(K-T) boundary. This was subsequently confirmed by a palynological study that 
demonstrated the disappearance of Late Cretaceous index species within the 
investigated exposure. The sequence supports the pattern recognized elsewhere 
in New Zealand where Araucariaceae macrofossils either disappear or become very 
rare in end-Cretaceous and the leaf Dryandra comptoniaefolia is an important 
component in the early Cenozoic. The Cave Stream K-T boundary is one of the 
very few in the world with organically-preserved plant macrofossils and 
confirms the dramatic turnover in macroflora, which is known from North America.

Gastaldo, R.A., Neveling, J., Clark, C.K., and Newbury, S.S. 2009. The 
terrestrial Permian-Triassic boundary event bed is a nonevent. Geology 
37(3):199-202. doi: 10.1130/G25255A.1.

ABSTRACT: A unique isochronous interval in the Karoo Basin, South Africa, 
previously has been interpreted to postdate vertebrate extinction at the 
Permian-Triassic boundary in the Bethulie area, Lootsberg Pass, and elsewhere. 
It is demonstrated that the laminated beds, or laminites, in the Bethulie 
region are stratigraphically indistinct. The heterolithic interval exposed on 
the Heldenmoed farm is ~8 m below the Bethel farm section, <1 km away. At 
Lootsberg Pass, the laminated interval is below the Permian-Triassic boundary 
as defined by vertebrate biostratigraphy, rather than overlying it. Hence, this 
interval, critical to models of end-Permian mass extinction, is neither 
isochronous across the basin nor unique. Rather, the lithofacies represents 
avulsion channel-fill deposits within aggradational landscapes. South African 
models for the response of terrestrial ecosystems to the perturbation in the 
marine realm require critical reevaluation.

Andreotti, B., FourriÃre, A., Ould-Kaddour, F., Murray, B., and Claudin, P. 
2009. Giant aeolian dune size determined by the average depth of the 
atmospheric boundary layer. Nature 457:1120-1123. doi: 10.1038/nature07787.

ABSTRACT: Depending on the wind regime, sand dunes exhibit linear, 
crescent-shaped or star-like forms resulting from the interaction between dune 
morphology and sand transport. Small-scale dunes form by destabilization of the 
sand bed with a wavelength (a few tens of metres) determined by the sand 
transport saturation length. The mechanisms controlling the formation of giant 
dunes, and in particular accounting for their typical time and length scales, 
have remained unknown. Using a combination of field measurements and 
aerodynamic calculations, we show here that the growth of aeolian giant dunes, 
ascribed to the nonlinear interaction between small-scale superimposed dunes, 
is limited by the confinement of the flow within the atmospheric boundary 
layer. Aeolian giant dunes and river dunes form by similar processes, with the 
thermal inversion layer that caps the convective boundary layer in the 
atmosphere acting analogously to the water surface in rivers. In both cases, 
the bed topography excites surface waves on the interface that in turn modify 
the near-bed flow velocity. This mechanism is a stabilizing process that 
prevents the scale of the pattern from coarsening beyond the resonant 
condition. Our results can explain the mean spacing of aeolian giant dunes 
ranging from 300 m in coastal terrestrial deserts to 3.5 km. We propose that 
our findings could serve as a starting point for the modelling of long-term 
evolution of desert landscapes under specific wind regimes.

Jerry D. Harris
Director of Paleontology
Dixie State College
Science Building
225 South 700 East
St. George, UT  84770   USA
Phone: (435) 652-7758
Fax: (435) 656-4022
E-mail: jharris@dixie.edu
 and     dinogami@gmail.com

"Life is the art of drawing
sufficient conclusions from
insufficient premises."
               -- Samuel Butler