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RE: At long last! Turner, Makovicky & Norell on dromaeosaurids



 I have not had time to read this tantalizing new work, but it is loaded with 
new photographs of the source fossils and tons of analysis, twists and turns. 
Surely everyone on this list will have this resource close at hand for many 
years to come. 

Note that it has all kinds of information for those of us who study bird 
origins. It finds no support for the phylogeny of Xu et al., 2011; it moves 
Xiaotingia into the Troodontidae, and moves Archaeopteryx back into Avialae. 
Furthermore it recovers Epidendrosaurus as a basal avialan (the MOST basal one, 
before Archaeopteryx), and places Epidexipteryx as just outside the split 
between Avialae and deinonychosaurs, possibly giving us a glimpse or a model 
for what the ancestral paravian looked like.

It also recovers the most basal dromaeosaur as Mahakala, a short - armed form. 
In this study, when we look at the most basal paravians and their closest 
sister groups, we see many forms that do not look extremely flighty 
(Epidexipteryx, Incisivosaurus, Mahakala). This may renew the possibility that 
the ancestral paravian did NOT glide or fly, nor even necessarily have long 
wings. Only an ancestral state analysis can assess this question empirically.

I look forward to a fruitful DML discussion on this pivotal piece.