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RE: Shenshiornis (was Re: The Karate New Papers)



Thanks to the kind soul who forwarded me the _Shenshiornis_ pdf, I now have a 
copy - and I'm happy to forward it on to anyone who requests it.


In general, I am skeptical of the claims that sapeornithids were strong fliers. 
 I'm not convinced they were capable of powered flight at all.  No known 
sapeornithid has the sternum preserved:  both _Sapeornis_ species, 
_Didactylornis_, _Shenshiornis_, _Omnivoropteryx_ (assuming it's a 
sapeornithid).  The sternum was undoubtedly present, but likely not ossified in 
life.


The claims that sapeornithids had "powerful flight capabilities" seem to be 
based mostly on the highly elongated forelimbs.  OK, so they had a pygostyle 
too; but there's no evidence that the pygostyle started out as a flight-related 
character.


The evidence for arboreality is a little more convincing.  The sapeornithid 
hallux is elongated, and positioned low on the foot.  The hallux is also 
described as "reversed".  Although no reason for this interpretation is given 
in the _Shenshiornis_ paper, the paper on _Sapeornis_ by Zhou and Zhang (2003) 
describes metatarsal I as being "J-shaped".  So it looks like sapeornithids had 
an anisodactyl perching pes.


Cheers

Tim