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Oviraptorosaurs as prehistoric "peacocks"



From: Ben Creisler
bh480@scn.org

Another news story from the SVP meeting with the original abstract:


Shake, Shake, Shake: Dinosaur Flirting Technique Revealed

http://www.livescience.com/16869-dinosaurs-flirted-tail-feathers.html

SVP Abstracts 2011

SHAKE YOUR TAIL FEATHERS: THE FLAMBOYANT, ATHLETIC, AND POSSIBLY
FLIRTATIOUS CAUDAL MORPHOLOGY OF OVIRAPTOROSAURS. PERSONS, Walter,
University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada; CURRIE, Philip, University of
Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada; NORELL, Mark, American Museum of Natural
History, New York, NY, USA 

A short series of fused posterior caudal vertebrae, tentatively indentifed
as a pygostyle, has been previously described in the oviraptorosaurs
Nomingia and Similicaudipteryx. Two additional oviraptorid specimens from
Mongolia, plus a second Nomingia specimen with a pygostyle, confrms the
conclusion that the original was not simply an injury or some other
osteological aberration. These new fnds show that pygostyles and, by
associational inference, tail-tip feather-fans were widespread amongst both
advanced and primitive oviraptorosaurs. In addition to pygostyles,
oviraptorosaur caudal osteology is unique among theropods and is
characterized by a distal transition point, exceptionally wide caudal ribs,
and anteroposteriorly short centra. The results of a morphological study
indicate a high degree of fexibility across the pre-pygostyle caudal
vertebral series. New three-dimensional digital muscle reconstruction
techniques reveal that, while oviraptorosaur tails were reduced in length
relative to the tails of other theropods, they were more muscular.
Critically, the relative size of the M. caudofemoralis was maintained in
oviraptorosaurs, despite overall caudal length reduction. Similarities
between the tails of oviraptorosaurs and birds appear to be convergent and,
contrary to previous assertions, provide no evidence that supports the
phylogenetic placement of oviraptorosaurs within, or as a sister group to,
the Avialae. Combined, these results indicate that oviraptorosaurs had the
necessary anatomy to dexterously faunt their caudal plumage, and that the
tails of oviraptorosaurs were uniquely adapted to serve as dynamic
intraspecifc display structures.


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