Monday, March 21, 2005

Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 50(1), 2005

From the latest volume of Acta Palaeontologica Polonica:

Osteology of the sauropod embryos from the Upper Cretaceous of Patagonia Leonardo Salgado, Rodolfo A. Coria, and Luis M. Chiappe. 2005. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 50: 79-92

Exceptionally well-preserved embryonic skulls of Upper Cretaceous (Campanian Anacleto Formation) sauropods from Auca Mahuevo (Neuquén Province, Argentina) provide important insights into the ontogeny and evolution of titanosaurian neosauropods. The most important cranial modifications occurring during titanosaurian ontogeny appear to be centered on the infraorbital and narial regions, which exhibit a substantial degree of “mosaic” evolution. On one hand, the Auca Mahuevo embryos show a large jugal that forms part of the lower margin of the skull and unretracted external nares, as indicated by the position and orientation of the lacrimals as well as the anterior extension of the frontals. Both of these features are ancestral for neosauropods, being present in prosauropods. On the other hand, the embryonic skull exhibits a large ventral notch, tentatively interpreted as homologous to the neosauropod preantorbital fenestra, that opens ventral to the jugal and between the maxilla and the quadratojugal, and a temporal region that closely resembles the adult neosauropod condition. This mosaic of character states indicates that different regions of the skull of titanosaurian neosauropods acquired their characteristic morphology at substantially different rates during their ontogenetic development.
Caudipteryx as a non-avialan theropod rather than a flightless bird Gareth J. Dyke and Mark A. Norell. 2005. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 50: 101-116
Caudipteryx zoui is a small enigmatic theropod known from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of the People’s Republic of China. From the time of its initial description, this taxon has stimulated a great deal of ongoing debate regarding the phylogenetic relationship between non-avialan theropods and birds (Avialae) because it preserves structures that have been uncontroversially accepted as feathers (albeit aerodynamically unsuitable for flight). However, it has also been proposed that both the relative proportions of the hind limb bones (when compared with overall leg length), and the position of the center of mass in Caudipteryx are more similar to those seen in extant cusorial birds than they are to other non-avialan theropod dinosaurs. This conclusion has been used to imply that Caudipteryx may not have been correctly interpreted as a feathered non-avialan theropod, but instead that this taxon represents some kind of flightless bird. We review the evidence for this claim at the level of both the included fossil specimen data, and in terms of the validity of the results presented. There is no reason—phylogenetic, morphometric or otherwise—to conclude that Caudipteryx is anything other than a small non-avialan theropod dinosaur.