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Re: AW: The cladogram from the supp. inf. of the *Anchiornis* paper



> >  I'd advise anyone
> interested in the topology here to include [...]
> >  another taxon of Confuciusornithidae that is not
> adult _C. sanctus_.
> 
> Assuming there is one. :-) *C. dui* seems real for the
> moment, but who knows. Maybe we'll run into surprises like
> the synonymy of *Torosaurus* with *Triceratops*...

There are still those who say there is, and they can be best refuted by 
including these taxa. Even if they are only _C. sanctus_ juvies, it will also 
help with the analysis (as it will enable you to see what influence ontogenetic 
variation has).

> Why is that trouble for nomenclature?
> 
> Where the trouble really lies is that I'm waiting for
> Archie to come out as, for example, a (very) basal
> troodontid, or maybe a slightly bizarre unenlagiine after
> all. Birds and oviraptorosaurs are remarkably close together
> again, too.

That's what I mean. The "told you: secondarily flightless!" people will have a 
field day if a phylogenetically defined and Archie-based Aves turns out to be = 
Paraves. Even though they miss the point: that Archie is considered the 
"Ur*vogel*" is simply a coincidence of time - would it have remained 
undiscovered til today, everyone would go "oh, how very *nice* - another 
sort-of-volant paravian dino, and a remarkably birdlike one at that!" but 
that's about all. 

It's certainly a most important taxon, but the real action happened on half a 
hemisphere and two epicontinental oceans away. At face value, Archie is in our 
time a bit more significant than _Rahonavis_ (another almost-flightless 
?insular endemic far off the beaten track), but that's about it.

That it cannot be tied even to _Iberomesornis_ is a bit much for me to swallow. 
This Solnhofen critter looks like it never evolved fully self-powered flapping 
flight and by 100 Ma had left no descendants.
 
> There are, anyway, very Archie-like teeth in Guimarota.

Picking up from Mickey's detailed information - they may not be as close to 
Archie as supposed, but *whatever* they belonged to, they are important if not 
crucial from a stratocladistic/paleobiographic standpoint.

*Anything* European and phylogenetically to Archie's ancestor is helpful. Even 
if not adjacent or sister to its immediate ancestry - it would still be 
informative in a biogeographical context. Because no matter how Archie took 
wing and how long it could stay aloft - distribution-wise, it was rather 
footbound, and its ancestors were more so. Archie was no Wrentit or Donacobius 
or Sapayoa.

> (:..The western shore of the Turgai Sea? Do we even know
> where that was???)

Well, *somewhere* along the eastern slope of the Urals I suppose. The trouble 
is finding Jurassic deposits in the Urals. I presume they are there, given the 
region's Mesozoic history - but they must be very localized and very small, 
individual sites not entire formations (think Messel Pit). 

There was a lot of erosion and sedimentation going on there at the right time, 
and the relief was good - a lot of mountains that were still rather fresh. 
Tectonically it was getting quiet, which is also good (too much volcanism will 
yield too few fossils). Some infilled lake or swamp in a nice sheltered 
mid-Mesozoic valley perhaps. The pattern of Cenozoic sediments (which are a bit 
more common than Mesozoic ones) should hint at where deposits are most likely 
to turn up.

They have a geological museum in Ekaterinburg, so if anyone wants to combine a 
holiday in Russia with some background research, this could be the place to go 
and peruse their maps. IONO if rock-hounding is popular down there, but any 
enthusiasts would probably know a lot about things for which the big maps have 
too large a scale.


> >  It's nice to include _Shenzhouraptor_, but you
> need more of this sort
> >  of fossils.

> All these "long-tailed birds" (*Jixiangornis* and
> *Dalianraptor* included) need to be redescribed

Yes, and these are precisely "this sort of fossils" I referred to.


> >  So... where are the (southern) African
> unenlagiine almost-birds?
> 
> Where are the (southern) African anything? There aren't
> many Cretaceous sites in that region, and AFAIK no Jurassic
> ones. From the K, there's the sauropod *Algoasaurus*, the
> ?basal coelurosaur *Nqwebasaurus*, and a gondwanatherian
> mammal from the LK of Tanzania which promises dinosaurs that
> haven't been found yet.

With a ghost lineage as long as the unenlagiines, I presume it's just a matter 
of time. My question was not to mean "how come none have been found?", but 
rather "where (in what paleo-habitat) will they eventually turn up?" :) 

(With all the recent interest, the question as I posed it might also be 
answered with one word: "Angola". And I'm only half-joking.)


Regards,

Eike