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RE: Ceratonykus braincase described

Tim Williams wrote-

> On another alvarezsaur-related issue, Alifanov and Saveliev poo-poo
> the proposed alvarezsaur affinities of _Haplocheirus_. I initially
> didn't understand their reasoning: "because the manus of this species
> displays typical theropod features." But it's apparent later on in
> the paper that the authors have some pretty heterodox views on the
> evolutionary history of alvarezsaurs. 

Yup, this dates to the original Ceratonykus paper.  As I wrote then... 

Alifanov and Barsbold question the placement of alvarezsaurids within 
  but their reasoning is not cladistic, based largely on autapomorphies (dorsal 
  jugal process absent; dorsal quadratojugal process absent; postorbital 
  quadrate; ventral flexure of endocranium absent; posteroventral dentary 
  absent; fused sternal plates; highly flattened metacarpal I; pubic symphysis 
  absent), characters absent in basal members (fused metacarpals; proximally 
  pubic tubercle; metatarsal III does not reach tarsus), characters present in 
  related theropods (enlarged prefrontal; dentary teeth in common groove; 
  caudal centra; obturator fenestra absent in pubis), and characters unknown in 
  alvarezsaurids (gastralia absent; pentadactyl manus). Other theropods are 
  to have lost dorsal jugal and quadratojugal processes, to have fused their 
  and lost their pubic symphyses as well, of course. The remaining 
  are unique among archosaurs as far as I know. The authors state "it is 
  interesting that many of the characters listed are recorded in 
  but while Lesothosaurus has enlarged prefrontals (primitive for archosaurs), 
  a flattened metacarpal I and a proximally placed pubic tuber, the other 
  listed and present in alvarezsaurids are absent. The synapomorphies shared by 
  Theropoda and its subgroups are far more numerous, and any suggestion for 
  alvarezsaurids outside that clade can be ignored. 

It's one of those many times that make you wonder where the reviewers were (or 
how much input Barsbold had).  Russia seems to be stuck in the 70's where 
phylogenetics is concerned, resulting in heterodox hypotheses, since there's no 
constraint like parsimony to hold them in check.  A similar example is 
Ivakhnenko's (2009) "Eotherapsid hypothesis for the origin of Monotremata."  It 
has monotremes evolving from anomodonts and supports groups no cladist believes 
in, like "Eotherapsida" containing sphenacodonts and some therapsids, but not 
cynodonts and mammals.  And there's Kurochkin's "enantiornithines are theropods 
but ornithuromorphs aren't" ideas.  Do they just lack access to new articles?  
Are the professors all 'old school' and pass on outdated thinking to their 

Ivakhnenko, 2009. Eotherapsid hypothesis for the origin of Monotremata. 
Paleontological Journal. 43(3), 237–250.

Alifanov and Barsbold, 2009. Ceratonykus oculatus gen. et sp. nov., a 
  new dinosaur (?Theropoda, Alvarezsauria) from the Late Cretaceous of 
  Paleontological Journal (English edition). 43(1), 94-106.

Mickey Mortimer