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Re: [dinosaur] Confuciusornis cranial morphology

Mickey Mortimer <mickey_mortimer111@msn.com> wrote:

> It's certainly an intriguing paper.  Confuciusornithid maxillae never did
> make much sense, so their identification of the supposed maxillary fenestra
> as a nasolacrimal foramen looks solid.  Ditto their taphonomic explanation
> for the weird robust postorbital processes in some specimens.

Overall, the highly autapomorphic jaw apparatus appears to be an
adaptation for snatching prey 'on the wing' with enhanced force and
speed by an akinetic skull (the upper beak can't move).  The
interpretation of _Confuciusornis_ as a sally-striking predator is
interesting, but the comparison to modern podargids (frogmouths)
probably shouldn't be taken too far.  Podargids are expert aerial
hawkers - a lifestyle also inferred for anurognathids (which are
additionally proposed to have been crepuscular or nocturnal hunters).
Sally strikes against stationary, non-aerial prey might have been more
common for _Confuciusornis_.  This would fit with the ground-foraging
habits and perching abilities inferred for _Confuciusornis_.

> I think it's
> interesting to see the perspective of Mayr who normally works with fossils
> of crown Aves, compared to Chiappe and Norell who are experts in stem Aves.
> Then there's Elzanowski, who in the late nineties and early 2000s
> interpreted Archaeopteryx's cranial anatomy as quite autapomorphic, only to
> be reinterpreted by Rauhut (2013; et al., 2018) as traditionally theropodan.

In the past, Elzanowski's interpretations of cranial anatomy have led
to some heterodox conclusions - such as oviraptorids being secondarily
flightless ornithothoracine birds ('ornithurine' in his terminology).

I wrote:

> However, contra Elzanowski &c, it would
> not have been necessary for _Confuciusornis_ to climb trees in order
> to reach a perch, given the likelihood that it could take off from the
> ground (e.g. Dececchi & Larsson 2011
> doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022292).

I meant to write Dececchi et al. 2016 PeerJ 4:e2159; DOI
10.7717/peerj.2159 (oops, sorry Mike).