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Re: Parahongshanornis, new Chinese Cretaceous bird (free pdf)

David Marjanovic <david.marjanovic@gmx.at> wrote:

> Interesting that *Parahongshanornis* retains two phalanges in the 3rd
> finger.

The major manual digit of _Patagopteryx_ has three phalanges (with the
third phalanx being ungual-like) and is also quite long.  It'd be
interesting to see a biomechanical study done on _Patagopteryx_, to
ascertain if this flightless bird had the potential for two-handed
grasping.  The forelimbs of _Patagopteryx_ are not that reduced - much
less so than alvarezsaurids and hesperornithids.  Relative to hindlimb
length, they are about double the length of compsognathid forelimbs.

> *Parapropalae(o?)hoplophorus*.
> I'm not kidding.

No, I believe you.  When a fossil is christened was an inventive,
imaginative or even humorous name, it engenders more interest in the
actual fossil.  Names like _Parahongshanornis_ disappear without
trace.  But names like _Tyrannosaurus_ ("tyrant lizard"),
_Brontomerus_ ("thunder-thighs"), _Pulchrapollia_ ("pretty Polly"),
_Seimosaurus_ ("earthquake lizard"), _Diabloceratops_ ("devil horned
face") or _Shaochilong_ ("shark-toothed dragon") take on a life of
their own.  People will remember the name _Beelzebufo_ (a prehistoric
frog) long after they've forgotten _Sineoamphisbaena_ (a purported
fossil amphisbaenian).  Even relatively prosaic names like
_Haplocheirus_ and _Caudipteryx_ are original, instead of just tacking
'Para' or 'Eo' or 'Pro(to)' on to an existing genus name.

It's ironic that a time Western paleontologists are increasingly
employing the Chinese and Mongol languages for new genus names
(_Shuvuuia_, _Erketu_, _Khaan_, _Xiongguanlong_, _Mei_, etc), some
Chinese paleontologists still rely on malformed or clunky Greek and
Latin combinations (_Aberratiodontus_, _Paraprotopteryx_,
_Parahongshanornis_, _Guizhouichthyosaurus_, etc).