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Re: Greg Paul is right (again); or "Archie's not a birdy"



On Wed, Jul 27, 2011 at 10:20 AM, Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. <tholtz@umd.edu> wrote:
>
> An Archaeopteryx-like theropod from China and the origin of Avialae
>
> Xing Xu,         Hailu You,      Kai Du  & Fenglu Han
> Nature 475, 465–470 (28 July 2011) doi:10.1038/nature10288
> Received 16 November 2010 Accepted 10 June 2011 Published online 27 July 2011
>
> Archaeopteryx is widely accepted as being the most basal bird, and
> accordingly it is regarded as central to understanding avialan origins;
> however, recent discoveries of derived maniraptorans have weakened the
> avialan status of Archaeopteryx. Here we report a new Archaeopteryx-like
> theropod from China. This find further demonstrates that many features
> formerly regarded as being diagnostic of Avialae, including long and
> robust forelimbs, actually characterize the more inclusive group Paraves
> (composed of the avialans and the deinonychosaurs). Notably, adding the
> new taxon into a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis shifts Archaeopteryx
> to the Deinonychosauria. Despite only tentative statistical support, this
> result challenges the centrality of Archaeopteryx in the transition to
> birds. If this new phylogenetic hypothesis can be confirmed by further
> investigation, current assumptions regarding the avialan ancestral
> condition will need to be re-evaluated.

Very cool!

Yet another reason why the definition of "Aves" should not rest on
_Archaeopteryx_.

-- 
T. Michael Keesey
http://tmkeesey.net/