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Re: Troodon and other problems (was Andrew McDonald response re: European iguanodonts)

On 5 April 2011 00:20,  <GSP1954@aol.com> wrote:
> In a message dated 4/4/11 5:24:07 PM, mike@indexdata.com writes:
> << The Apatosaurus material is pretty good -- there are a couple of nice
> cervicals.  It's not AS good as the Brontosaurus holotype, but it's
> plenty diagnostic enough to be getting on with.>>
> Having examined the material I disagree. It is not even possible to firmly
> establish how many individuals are involved in the nonarticulated type, the
> diagnosis could be based on multiple taxa.

Then we are at in impasse, since I too have examined the material.

> <<Also the
> Brontosaurus skeleton is less useful for diagnosis that we might wish,
> because the bones are smothered in plaster.  They did a really
> horrible job on it back in the day -- not just filling in the gaps,
> but also in many places smearing over what bone they did have, so it's
> impossible to tell what's real and what isn't. >>
> Ye original skeletal drawing shows what is real and not (I suspect the
> primitive prejacketing excavation techniques were responsible for much of the
> bone loss).

It's even worse than that: much of the cervical material was brought
to the YPM in sacks full of bone fragments and reassembled on site.

Sadly, Marsh's figures are famously not to be trusted to indicate what
is real bone and what is imagination -- see for Barbour 1890, a real
horror story.  He also routinely contradicts himself: the two Marsh
reconstructions of the Brontosaurus holotype skeleton show different
parts of the bones as being real and not.

> In any case the specimen needs dismantling and remounting, at
> which time it can be properly assessed.

Agreed -- that's the only way any of us will really find out what the
state of play is.  Happily, the YPM do have plans afoot to do this
work, or at least they a couple of years back.  Whether they got
funding, and have the prospect of getting any, I can't say.

-- Mike.