Passerine birds fight dirty, a la Velociraptor

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I used to receive random unsolicited emails from an individual who strongly promoted the idea that birds could not not not not be dinosaurs, that the entire dinosaur family tree was screwed up beyond belief, that 'dinosaurs' had evolved from random assorted diverse archosaurs, that cladistics was rubbish, and that all mainstream palaeontologists were idiots.

For some reason, the study of dinosaurs attracts people with strong 'fringe' beliefs: this must be a by-product of popularity, as you don't get this with temnospondyls, fossil ostriches, Eocene primates, corals or sea jellies (at least, as far as I know).

Anyway, said individual claimed that the 'fighting' specimen of Velociraptor [shown below] provided compelling evidence for his assertion that feathers were indisputably absent in non-avian maniraptorans. I've just been doing some writing on the 'fighting dinosaurs' (a Velociraptor and Protoceratops preserved locked in combat), so this specimen is on my mind. The Velociraptor is lying on its side, its left hindfoot jammed up against the Protoceratops's neck (you know, like a climbing crampon... ), its left hand is gripping the Protoceratops's frill, and its right arm is clamped shut in the Protoceratops's beak. Anyway, the fact that the Velociraptor in question is on its side, apparently grappling with this formidable opponent, was taken by said individual to show that feathers must have been absent. After all, said individual argued, feathers would get damaged and broken if their owner grappled in this fashion, and hence feathers are utterly incongruous with this sort of predation.

i-ec80f9fabc75f80de741fd5a5a2d5c4c-fighting_Velociraptor_31-3-2009.jpg

Needless to say this is all fringe whackaloon nonsense. Like it or not, Velociraptor and kin really did have feathers: as if the presence of indisputable feathers in other dromaeosaur and maniraptoran specimens is not proof enough (e.g., Ji et al. 1998, 2001, Zhou et al. 2000a, b, Hwang et al. 2002, Norell et al. 2002, Norell & Xu 2005), the presence of quill nodes in Velociraptor (Turner et al. 2007) demonstrates once and for all that this animal was feathered.

As it happens, the idea that feathered dinosaurs could not/cannot and did not/do not wrestle or grapple with prey is also nonsense. There aren't loads of cases, but I'm aware of several instances where birds have been recorded rolling and squirming around on the ground (sometimes for protracted periods) when subduing prey or fighting. A series of photographs taken by Shelly Grossman, and appearing in various of Roger Tory Peterson's books (e.g., Peterson 1968), show a Great horned owl Bubo virginianus fighting with, and killing, a snake. The owl is literally lying on its side, grappling with the snake on the ground and grabbing it in both its bill and feet. Perhaps even more impressive are those cases when birds - particularly passerines - get into territorial scraps and, similarly, roll around on the ground and wrestle with their feet. I've seen male Blackbirds Turdus merula do this but have never been quick enough to photograph it (the two individuals concerned are shown below. Despite heroic efforts, I failed to get a shot of them actually fighting).

i-8ce0a1029957a0fa728a8cab20526039-The_blackbirds_that_fight_in_my_garden_31-3-2009.jpg
i-a1649e918b59630eba4114cba8a4ae6e-NZ_starlings_in_combat_31-3-2009.jpg

Due, it seems, to intense competition over nesting boxes, feral starlings Sturnus vulgaris in New Zealand have been observed and photographed engaging in long, protracted wrestling bouts. The two combatants grasp each others heads in their feet and then try to dig their claws into the opponent's eyes (Flux & Flux 1993). Even when picked up by people, the birds continued to fight, and some individuals had died this way. Bell (2002) reported a case in which two fighting New Zealand starlings fell off the edge of a roof while locked in wrestling combat, landed on another roof, and eventually fell off this too, then landing on the ground four metres below. They fought all the while, this going on for an incredible 45 minutes. There are other reports of this protracted terrestrial wrestling in the starling literature, but it isn't unique to starlings as Taylor (1969) reported two male Bellbirds Anthornis melanura that were also found locked in combat, and I'm sure there are other examples of this sort of thing in the literature. Wrestling Great tits Parus major are shown at the top of the article.

So, birds can and do wrestle, sometimes engaging in protracted terrestrial bouts of foot-gripping that literally involves the birds tumbling and rolling around on the ground. Ergo, the fact that non-avian theropods like Velociraptor apparently engaged in this behaviour is perfectly concordant with the fact that they were feathered too.

Refs - -

Bell, B. D. 2004. Prolonged aggressive encounter between two starlings below a prospective nest site. Notornis 51, 53-55.

Flux, J. E. C. & Flux, M. M. 1993. Nature red in claw: how and why starlings kill each other. Notornis 39, 293-300.

Hwang, S. H., Norell, M. A., Ji, Q. & Gao, K. 2002. New specimens of Microraptor zhaoianus (Theropoda: Dromaeosauridae) from northeastern China. American Museum Novitates 3381, 1-44.

Ji, Q., Currie, P. J., Norell, M. A. & Ji, S. 1998. Two feathered dinosaurs from northeastern China. Nature 393, 753-761.

- ., Norell, M. A., Gao, K.-Q., Ji, S.-A. & Ren, D. 2001. The distribution of integumentary structures in a feathered dinosaur. Nature 410, 1084-1088.

Norell, M. A., Ji, Q., Gao, K., Yuan, C., Zhao, Y. & Wang, L. 2002. 'Modern' feathers on a non-avian dinosaur. Nature 416, 36-37.

- . & Xu, X. 2005. Feathered dinosaurs. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 33, 277-299.

Peterson, R. T. 1968. The Birds. Time-Life International (Nederland).

Taylor, R. H. 1969. Male Bellbirds locked in combat. Notornis 15, 63.

Turner, A. H., Makovicky, P. J. & Norell, M. A. 2007. Feather quill knobs in the dinosaur Velociraptor. Science 317, 1721.

Zhou, Z.-H. & Wang, X.-L. 2000a. A new species of Caudipteryx from the Yixian Formation of Liaoning, northeast China. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 38, 111-127.

- ., Wang, X.-L., Zhang, F.-C. & Xu, X. 2000b. Important features of Caudipteryx - evidence from two nearly complete new specimens. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 38, 241-254.

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Well, please write more about these 'fighting' dinosaurs! I read theory that this is not predation, but Velociraptor drowning in flood/sandstorm grabbed the Protoceratops carcass missing some bones.

Erm, a carcass doesn't try to bite your arm off.

By Eriorguez (not verified) on 31 Mar 2009 #permalink

"Erm, a carcass doesn't try to bite your arm off."

ZOMBIE PROTOCERATOPS! But more to the point, who says that birds cannot be badass? Just looking at how passerine birds fight compared to Velociraptor screams just how much our modern feathered friends retain from their ferocious ancestors.

Thinking about how birds fight already, it makes one wonder how the hypothetical chickenosaurus proposed by Horner would fight. Cockfights are already bloody affairs today, imagine what they would be if the participants were not only armed with spurs, but claws and teeth as well. I guess they would fight "tooth and nail". Of course, there is no guarantee that the animal would know how to use these arms, how to grasp objects and manipulate their arms other than as wings isn't exactly instinct in a chicken.

However, I find that the claims of a featherless Velociraptor to be lacking. First of all, animals get injured in nature all the time. A careless lion gets gored by a rhino, a moose smacks a coyote upside the head, and the prehistoric world was no different. Secondly, damage in the pennaceous feathers did not spell death for Velociraptor, for they did not fly like modern birds.

This was a both entertaining and excellent post Darren. Perhaps you should also post the other claims that these people make saying that paleontology is all screwed up.

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 31 Mar 2009 #permalink

Very great post, Darren! The first image is wonderfully mesozoic...

In my blog, I've discussed the "Fighting Dinosaurus" and the dromaeosaurid feathers (the posts are written in Italian but a English translator is present on the sidebar):

http://theropoda.blogspot.com/2008/10/combattenti-per-leternit.html
http://theropoda.blogspot.com/2009/02/le-tenaci-penne-di-velociraptor.h…
http://theropoda.blogspot.com/2009/01/chi-ama-la-scienza-odia-i-veloci-…

Perhaps you should also post the other claims that these people make saying that paleontology is all screwed up.

Just as long as we steer clear of creationists and their coconut eating tyrannosaurs.

On the subject of "Velociraptor can't be feathered because..." it does argue against big plumes potentially delicate plumes on the arms. Then again, sexual selection and the handicap principle might encourage such structures. And arm feathers don't have to be large all the time, the animal may have had specific breeding plumage. Additionally because they didn't have to fly feathers could have been shed continuously so any damaged ones would have been replaced quickly enough for it not to be a problem.

WOW! Willful ignorance can be stunning. I just watched a mockingbird flog the crap out of a squirrel in my back yard and I was thinking about a little velocirapter the entire time. They go through this several times a day. The mockingbird looks as fresh as a daisy afterward.

By thylacineg (not verified) on 31 Mar 2009 #permalink

"On the subject of "Velociraptor can't be feathered because..." it does argue against big plumes potentially delicate plumes on the arms. Then again, sexual selection and the handicap principle might encourage such structures. And arm feathers don't have to be large all the time, the animal may have had specific breeding plumage. Additionally because they didn't have to fly feathers could have been shed continuously so any damaged ones would have been replaced quickly enough for it not to be a problem."

Agreed. Birds molt as sparingly as often (or at least the ones that are flightless when molting) so they do not hamper their ability to fly. Dromaeosaurs and other maniraptorans, who did not fly for the most part, probably could have molted more during their lifetime.

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 31 Mar 2009 #permalink

After spending large chunks of my life watching both captive and wild raptors hunt, the thought that birds don't roll around on the ground struggling is amusing. They may get the odd broken feather, but the occasional tipped feather doesn't change the birds ability to fly, thermoregulate, etc.

The sound of the e-mails you get makes me glad to work on more or less obscure groups of insects, no crazy amateurs to deal with.

Anyone who has spent much time around birds is familiar with how completely vicious they are. Have they never heard of cock-fighting?

Having a goose clamp down on you with its beak and then pummel you with its feathered-covered wings is bad enough (I know firsthand). Keep the same temperament as a modern bird, but make it 50 kg instead of 10, and add teeth and claws, and you have something truly terrifying.

Where I live in Southern California, I've occasionally seen two hummingbirds scrapping on the ground like pissed-off toy helicopters. Maybe this guy doesn't live near any birds.=p

Ive seen birds fighting within a species and between species quite a few times, but its always hard to get the action on camera (although coots can be relatively easy). One occurance that springs to mind is the mistle thrushes not holding back when a magpie got too close to their nest. The magpie managed to pin the attacking thrush, until its partner dived in at full speed - queue a cloud of feathers when the collision occurs! The video I managed to get is here: http://my.opera.com/Ukwildlife/blog/mistle-thrushes-mobbing-magpie-video

Thank you, DF.

By Nathan Myers (not verified) on 31 Mar 2009 #permalink

Fighting on the ground like this probably make them vulnerable to other predators. I saw an amateur video of a hawk and a magfie fighting the same way, until a cat interfered hoping for a free meal, but both magpie and predator escaped and saved their lives, though.
Brown bear versus man, moose versus man are other examples in close combats for life and death...

By Erik Knatterud (not verified) on 31 Mar 2009 #permalink

Having a goose clamp down on you with its beak and then pummel you with its feathered-covered wings is bad enough (I know firsthand). Keep the same temperament as a modern bird, but make it 50 kg instead of 10, and add teeth and claws, and you have something truly terrifying.

Thank you! I grew up on a farm and getting flogged by a pissed-off rooster is like having four strong men beat you, two with broomsticks and two with rakes. They are utterly fearless when it comes to taking on animals much bigger than they are, and from what I have seen--and felt--of passerine head-bombings, raptors tangling with deer, etc., this is not unusual for birds. Sometimes I get teased when I try to tell people about this--"Oh, big ole Matt is afwaid of a widdle chickie?"--but anyone who has been flogged by poultry has a better perspective on dromaeosaur predation than anyone who has not, I reckon.

Great post with great photos!

I used to receive random unsolicited emails from an individual

Peter Mihalda = Jean Pierre D'Amour, I suppose -- the guy who has been sending me the same kind of e-mails for years (in the meantime going from BAND to MANIAC), and forwards his private correspondence with dinosaur experts to me, without permission, in order to somehow bolster his arguments from ignorance (like: anatomical features he doesn't know about don't exist... therefore phylogenetics can be done with 3 characters, and non-maniraptoran theropods are rauisuchians, while ankylosaurs are aetosaurs... and I had to teach him that horses aren't digitless wonders, seriously). IIRC he has sent me the exact same claim about Velociraptor. In case you wonder, I don't think it's a problem to publish what appear to be the names of his grandfathers; he deserves to be pointed and laughed at in public.

you know, like a climbing crampon...

:-D :-D :-D

Seconded.

Hey, you could do an "I get e-mail" series like PZ! I can forward you a few hundred if you need them :o)

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 31 Mar 2009 #permalink

Birds can be pretty unforgiving. I have been attacked furiously by three pissed-off grouse (not all at once), dive-bombed by many seagulls, chased by geese, and threatened by an eagle (they don't mess around). The grouse were especially aggressive (but in an adorable way): They run right up to you and start pecking madly and beating their wings. If you shove them away with your foot, they just hop right back up, fluff their feathers, and run right back at you.

I don't think birds are particularly concerned about their plumage when they're angry.

HELLO, birds can't fight like that because they have "fragile" feathers? I suppose the individual who believes that has never heard of game chickens. Sadly, chicken fighting is a not-too-secret activity in the area where I live, and many people keep fighting roosters. Even the game hens are aggressive and they will fight just about anything, especially when they have a brood, but the roosters will fight each other to the death if they are not separated by humans. If anything, feathers are more protection from wounds than a hair coat.

The grouse were especially aggressive (but in an adorable way): They run right up to you and start pecking madly and beating their wings. If you shove them away with your foot, they just hop right back up, fluff their feathers, and run right back at you.

So true, after working with Attwater's Prairie Chickens and their cousins I'd pick a fight with my peregrine before an APC any day.

First time I saw birds fighting like this it was Indian Mynahs (introduced pests in Australia, e.g. http://www.mdavid.com.au/mynahs/mynahs.shtml ), five or six of them grappling noisily on the footpath in a busy shopping street, pedestrians veering around them without (it shocked me to note) apparent curiosity. At first I thought the birds were trapped in a net or something, but no. I watched them for about a minute before it broke up and some flew off - hotly pursued by the rest - but don't know how long they'd been going already (and they might well have splashed off the roof, they were so oblivious to everything and everyone else around them).
Probably there were teams, and rules (or at least a contested 'vacant' nest-hole somewhere), but those little brown immigrants with slicked-back black Elvis haircuts all look the same to me... (yeah, I'm prejudiced against ferals). I haven't seen such all-in brawls among native birds, but quite a few wrestling pairs. And they do fight dirty. In a couple of cases, one bird holding the other down in the road, apparently waiting for a car to be nearly on top of them before releasing and flying off. Two young Australian magpies in one case (probably sibs: the one on the bottom barely managed to get out of the way, leaving several flight feathers spinning in a vortex), and two male Eastern whipbirds in the other (top guy ducked into the bushes, bottom got hit... by my car, fortunately not fast, and he seemed OK after half an hour or so). Attempted murder!

I wonder whether the Velociraptor or the Protoceratops first saw the sand-sheet cut loose, and how close they thought they could time it before letting go...

By John Scanlon FCD (not verified) on 31 Mar 2009 #permalink

After all, said individual argued, feathers would get damaged and broken if their owner grappled in this fashion, and hence feathers are utterly incongruous with this sort of predation.

Most idiotic argument I've ever seen that didn't come from a creationist. To borrow Orac's favorite catchphrase, the stupid does indeed burn.

By wolfwalker (not verified) on 31 Mar 2009 #permalink

' the hell?! Could you make the really cool picture of the fighting dinos any smaller? Is there a larger version we could view?

It being April the First, and all that, SOMEBODY ought to speak up in defense of whackaloon fringe nonsense...

Scale.

Velociraptor isn't big as theropods go, but it's a lot heavier than Parus or Turdus. Crush wing feathers under the combined weight of two Parus or Turdus and most likely enough will remain unbroken to let the survivor(s) fly away. Put them under the combined weight of two Velociraptors (or of a Velociraptor and a Protoceratops) and I suspect you might break more feather-quills.

(Mind you, a Velociraptor whose arm has just been chomped by a desperate Protoceratops and is lying beside a waterloggged sand dune probably has worse things than broken feathers to worry about...)

Nice post!

By Allen Hazen (not verified) on 31 Mar 2009 #permalink

Speaking of vicious bird fights, there's a YouTube video of a European sparrowhawk Accipter nisus fighting and killing - by drowning! - a magpie Pica pica. (Now, I'm not saying that the drowning proves that the sparrowhawk is extremely intelligent, but its action does look quite deliberate.)

I've been watching Dunnocks, Prunella modularis (how do you do italics?), in the garden recently. They have a lot of weird little habits, not least that they live in little MMF threesomes.

Anyway, the beta male will try sneak a mating with the female, which leads to a lot of fights with the alpha. They often roll around, grabbing hold of each others feathers. It's like watching a fight in a Peanuts cartoons.

I've seen peregrines force a buzzard to the floor, onto it's back, once before. I was about 10 feet away!

By David Craven (not verified) on 31 Mar 2009 #permalink

Strange - I never saw a picture of life restoration of this scene.

BTW - Velociraptor skeleton is perfect, but Protoceratops is missing one leg and some bones. Zombie hypothesis? ;-)

Darren, you may wish to ask Mr. Stephen Bodio about feather loss/breaking in birds of prey. Accipiters in particular are prone to snapped tail feathers from tussles with prey. It's something falconers have to deal with frequently.

Darren:

Wrestling Great tits Parus major are shown at the top of the article.

Incidentally, tits are typically quite aggressive little birds. Among aviculturists, they have a reputation of being very dangerous to any other similar-sized - or even slightly larger - birds they are kept with. (Not that the tits' restless dispositions make them suitable cage birds anyway.) In the wild, tits sometimes compete fiercely for nesting sites with other passerines; for example, fights with great tits Parus major can be a significant cause of mortality in male Ficedula flycatchers (Merilä & Wiggins, 1995). Tits have also been recorded as preying on hibernating bats (Radzicki et al., 1999).

References:

Merilä, J. & Wiggins, D.A. 1995. Interspecific competition for nest holes causes adult mortality in the collared flycatcher. The Condor 97, 445-450.

Radzicki, G., Hejduk, J. & Banbura, J. 1999. Tits (Parus major and Parus caeruleus) preying upon hibernating bats. Ornis Fennica 76, 93-94.

Jerzy:

Strange - I never saw a picture of life restoration of this scene.

Do you mean the Velociraptor - Protoceratops fight? Google Image Search turns up reconstructions a-plenty.

Darren, you may wish to ask Mr. Stephen Bodio about feather loss/breaking in birds of prey. Accipiters in particular are prone to snapped tail feathers from tussles with prey. It's something falconers have to deal with frequently.

I've only flown falcons and hawks, getting my first Accipiter in a couple months, but my experience has been most broken feather are management issues not resultant from hunting. The feather issues I've had from hunting tend to be bends in the feather shaft (which can eventually lead to breaking), or messing up the webbing (which will be set right with preening assuming it doesn't happen repeatedly to the point of breaking off the barbules). Even the accipiters ive been hanging around with don't tend to break feathers hunting but rather when on perches or in poorly designed mews.

Thanks, I somehow never looked for it...

BTW - great tits are also known to eat out brains of smaller tits trapped in ringing nets. And regularily scavenge from large mammal carcasses. No joking.

great tits are also known to eat out brains of smaller tits trapped in ringing nets.

I've known budgies to eat the heads of other budgies after they've died. (After the budgie being eaten has died, that is, not the budgie doing the eating.)

>Thanks, I somehow never looked for it...

BTW - great tits are also known to eat out brains of smaller tits trapped in ringing nets. And regularily scavenge from large mammal carcasses. No joking.<

They are not seed eaters! Feasting on hung moose meat from the hunt or flocks of them in the old days picking clean beheaded carcasses of criminals. Same survival instinct. On the other hand, magpies can snatch tits or other small ones in flight to eat them.

By Erik Knatterud (not verified) on 02 Apr 2009 #permalink

I've known budgies to eat the heads of other budgies after they've died. (After the budgie being eaten has died, that is, not the budgie doing the eating.)

Budgies that die, then eat the brains of other budgies, would be known as zombudgies.

By Stevo Darkly (not verified) on 02 Apr 2009 #permalink

On Wednesday 2nd April I saw waterborne goose/swan aggression, with a beakful of a swan's feathers plucked out by a goose. (click on my name for more)

I present to you another example of another bird not afraid to get its feathers ruffled- and perhaps important because I don't know, you might expect that the mechanical properties of feathers don't scale linearly with size (cf argument that T rex couldn't run)..

Marjanovic has nothing to say scientifically, so he curses other people. I shall not comment such primitive.
Your method is to search novelties, my method is to search plesiomorphies, or you look forward and I look backward. In other words, it is like a maths exam, you may use an original method, but if your results are wrong then your work is a trash.
But we may speak about those "experts". Carpenter does not see laminae on basal ankylosaurs (Nopcsa, 1905), Kirkland does not on Mymoorapelta (1994), and Butler does not recognize at all laminae on stegosaurs (pers com) despite they are not only well established but also described (Dong et al, 1983)! And Yates, Wilson and Wedel simply resoluted which animals can have laminae and which cannot. Parrish (and before him Coombs and Carpenter) writes about a mammal-like acromion process in ankylosaurs, but it is already present in aetosaurs. Or not? Let us see what we can see [here].
Some may call this a conspiracy but I call it a camouflage. Because naturally then results of your analysis are greatly influenced. I have shown have many characters of ankylosaurs are miscoded. Rauisuchians theropods? Huene and Romer placed Teratosauridae as the basalmost family of Carnosauria, and those were TOP experts. And again, an elongate anterior process of maxilla is declared a synapomorphy of Tetanurae despite being present in rauisuchids (eg Fasolasuchus) and prosauropods. Novas (1989) has made a thorough analysis of ankles, and theropods clade with derived bipedal ornithischians not with prosauropods, their sister taxon! It is a proof of convergence. But put ankylosaurs there and you will see...
Most recently these people try to camouflage recently found tracks of stegosaurs preserved with metatarsals as a part of foot. Agains this there is simply no help...
That Aetosauria+Rauisuchia are ancestors of Saurischia+Ornithischia is not a question anymore, but THE question is what is their common ancestor.

As for velociraptors, I do not care about them, and may only say that South American "raptors" are all troodonts. If Velociraptor has had feathers is for me completely irrelevant.

Peter Mihalda

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 13 Apr 2009 #permalink

I feel like I need to do a broad survey - it seems like a decent fraction of this select population has been acting out old Hitchcock movies. Does this reflect the experience of the wider population, or does being attacked by birds predispose one to reading paleontologists' blogs?

Darby:

I feel like I need to do a broad survey - it seems like a decent fraction of this select population has been acting out old Hitchcock movies. Does this reflect the experience of the wider population, or does being attacked by birds predispose one to reading paleontologists' blogs?

I have been mock attacked by a male capercaillie Tetrao urogallus. Does that count?

Now we have 2009 and it is simply incredible that these bakkerians have survived until now. When one reads 8 common characters of anchisaurs in "Dinosaur heresies" (correct name), those are such nonsenses (either plesiomorphies or convergences, or non-existant) that it is difficult to comment them. Yes, Saturnalia has not been known then, but Bakker (and his squad) did not know that all ankylosaurs have a fully closed acetabulum?
Saturnalia has a pelvis very similar to some middle Triassic rauisuchians, and was certainly evolved of one of them. But Theropoda might not be monophyletic, as shown by a pelvis of Torvosaurus, very similar to that of prosauropods. Several late rauisuchids and Herrerasaurus have a well-developed pubic foot (unlike Torvosaurus) so should be more derived (=split off the main branch later). For this group (rauisuchians, sauropodomorphans, "theropods") the name Saurischia should be applied. But contra Yates, Langer and others, Prosauropoda is monophyletic and Sauropoda not, probably several lineages of prosauropods, as shown by many characters, for instance the lesser trochanter in Omeisaurus. How can sauropods raised from a single ancestor when more primitive "sauropods" already lost it? And moreover, segnosaurs delete many sauropod synapomorphies (showing they were evolved in parallel).
Even worse situation is in systematics of Ornithischia. I do not see any reason why the name Thyreophora (panzer dinosaurs) should not be applied to Aetosauria too (hey this idea is not mine but was published in 1977 by Maryanska, and perhaps earlier by Huene), but aetosaurs still do not have a reversed pubis so cannot be Ornithischians. Thulborn (1977) came with an idea that Scelidosaurus is an ornithopod, others say it is a thyreophoran. Both are right - it is a thyreophoran of a lineage which gave rise to ornithopods. But there must be missing links as shown by a closed acetabulum of several basal hadrosaurs.
After all, we still have a lot to discover.

Peter Mihalda

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 20 Apr 2009 #permalink

To people who are not experts on fossil archosaurs and might, perhaps, think that the above point of view possibly has merit, I would like you to note that the message is an excellent example of what we call 'fringe wackaloon nonsense'.

Peter, or Jean-Pierre (yes, this is Jean-Pierre D'Amour), or whatever your name is: you understand nothing of phylogeny, character distribution, or convergence. We have kind of moved on from the idea that single, plesiomorphic features might somehow demonstrate affinity. Go away and leave palaeontology alone.

Welcome to the blogosphere!

Marjanovic has nothing to say scientifically

Is that so?

You're projecting.

You're projecting your ignorance, for example. You didn't even know that "synapomorphy" does not mean "character state that's unique to a clade"; it means "derived character state that two sister-groups share" (and "autapomorphy" means "derived character state that is present in a clade but not its two closest relatives").

and those were TOP experts.

Of course. They did the best they could with the limited dataset they had at their disposal and the complete lack of a method of phylogenetics they suffered under.

There's a good reason that science is not hero worship.

Novas (1989) has made a thorough analysis of ankles, and theropods clade with derived bipedal ornithischians not with prosauropods, their sister taxon!

It is not possible to do phylogenetics with a single small part of the body. You need the whole thing. You need all information you can get. More is better, because then the signal will add up and the noise will cancel itself out.

It is a proof of convergence.

How naive.

[...] South American "raptors" are all troodonts.

Just because you say so?

Publish or it didn't happen.

When one reads 8 common characters of anchisaurs [and heterodontosaurids] in "Dinosaur heresies"

Those were offered as evidence for Phytodinosauria, not for Dinosauria. And yes, indeed, they are wrong, and everyone knows that and has known that for 20 years. However, several of them also occur in theropods, and still don't occur in the closest relatives of dinosaurs, so they are evidence for Dinosauria...

You should read the new papers, not just the old papers.

the lesser trochanter in Omeisaurus. How can sauropods raised from a single ancestor when more primitive "sauropods" already lost it?

What do you mean "already"? Can't it come back? Alternatively, can't the loss of the lesser trochanter be an autapomorphy of Omeisaurus? Remember, O. is not an ancestor of anything known.

The argument from ignorance is a logical fallacy.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 21 Apr 2009 #permalink

I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but I agree with David. Well, not really, because a lot of the hypothesises Peter mentioned have been destroyed numerous times over. David smashed a lot of the claims pretty good, but I would like to mention three things. One, we have found animals that are basal to the whole of the Dinosauria (or else very, very basal on the three major "stems" of the dinosaur family tree), including Eoraptor, herrerasaurids, and Panphagia. Two, Teratosaurus was long thought to be a theropod, but later reevaluation showed that it was instead a rauisuchian. Theropods and rauisuchians can get mixed up rather easily if one does not have easily diagnostic parts. Look at Shuvosaurus, who was actually mistook for an ornithomimid at first before languishing under the title of "enigma" for many years. Three, traits can develop and redevelop. That's the point of evolution, things change. For example, dolphins and toothed whales have homodont dentition and a near-total lack of body hair. Does this mean they are basal synapsids that are a sister group to the clade of Sphenacodontidae+Therapsida? No! Hoatzin have wing claws as juveniles. Does this mean they are surviving archaeopterygiform birds? No!

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 21 Apr 2009 #permalink

Good explanation, Metalraptor. :-)

My first link doesn't work anymore. It was supposed to lead to this paper; if you want it (and the online appendices), drop me or my coauthor an e-mail.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 21 Apr 2009 #permalink

Wow, David actually saying something nice to me? Have I fallen into some crazy paralell world where up is down, and multituberculates took over for artiodactyls in the Cenozoic? Anyway, thanks David.

I also found another example of how mixing the archosaurs all up is crazy. If one is going to unite the aetosaurs and thyreophorans, one may as well tack on crocodylomorphs as a sister group, since all the members of this "clade" have osteoderms on the back. But numerous anatomical features do not support this.

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 21 Apr 2009 #permalink

"And moreover, segnosaurs delete many sauropod synapomorphies (showing they were evolved in parallel)."

No one calls them segnosaurs anymore, and we have known they evolved separately from the sauropods for quite some time.

"But Theropoda might not be monophyletic, as shown by a pelvis of Torvosaurus, very similar to that of prosauropods."

Yes, lets just ignore every single character of Torvosaurus showing it is a theropod and instead claim it evolved from Plateosaurus and its kin!

"But we may speak about those "experts"."

You know, paleontologists who support ideas which are highly implausible and are based on very poor data oftetimes bash the experts instead of presenting facts. Just look at Peters and his paper on reptile phylogeny, in which he claims mammals are archosaurs, snakes are polyphyletic, and his old favorite; pterosaurs are lizards...of course not before bashing the experts and claiming that they are keeping the truth from the people.

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 21 Apr 2009 #permalink

David, I noticed that in your third paper, you refer to one of Darren's Tet Zoo posts. Cool!

Ha - that's awesome, Tet Zoo cited in a technical paper. Thanks David (and Michel).

That's where I learned that Apoda was preoccupied, so I had to cite it. (I then found two dead-tree references to that fact and cited them too.) That's after all why we had to coin the new name Gymnophionomorpha for the caecilian total group!

Also, I don't actually cite a post â I cite your comments to the post. :-)

No one calls them segnosaurs anymore

Which is strange, because Therizinosauroidea has a sort of node-based sort of definition that would exclude even Beipiaosaurusâ¦

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 22 Apr 2009 #permalink

Out of curiosity, what is MANIAC? I've heard of BAND (Birds Are Not Dinosaurs), but what is the other one? Maniraptorans are not in a Coelurosauria?

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 22 Apr 2009 #permalink

Maniraptorans Are Not In Actuality Coelurosaurs, the new favoured model of Feduccia and colleagues. Pretty much the same as arguing that hominoids are not primates.

So since they can't deny that birds are maniraptors anymore, they're denying that maniraptors are dinosaurs. I assume they've jumped on Czerkas' wierd bandwagon. In his descriptions of Scansoriopteryx and Cryptovolans, he suggests that maniraptors evolved in parallel to theropods (or something). One of the big points he hammers on is that the third finger of Scansor is the longest, just like...wait for it...Herrerasaurus. So theropods and maniraptors split from a common ancestor.

nice thread

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 22 Apr 2009 #permalink

Despite being very occupied, I have read these strange messages where I may even acknowledge that my name is Jean-Paul Bellmondo, but cannot find what "David smashed", and Darren Naish only screams how I do not understand anything. He has nothing to say scientifically, too, like many his colleagues. Maryanska has studied ankylosaurs in detail, so it is hardly wackaloon nonsense. And people who study rauisuchians only objects one thing - ankle. But ankle did not evolve? And, as I say, put ankylosaurs to Novas analysis, and it will collapse. I have never said that Torvosaurus has evolved from Plateosaurus but from rauisuchians! And come on, stop screaming and show me in what its skull differs from that of eg Prestosuchus?
"derived character state that two sister-groups share"? And did not I present several of them which aetosaurs+rauisuchians and their descendants saurischians and ornithischians, resp, share?
To Metalraptor: Eoraptor is not even a saurischian, it lacks dorsal laminae (pers obs), and is some kind of small carnivorous pseudosuchians which are little known and studied. To Miller: exactly these forms might have been ancestors of "birds", although birds are not monophyletic and Archie+friends are troodont descendants.

But you have the right to scream, and to insult, because it is the only thing which left to you. After all, pseudoscientists also need to have some websites, although I have a hope several of you are in it because you believe to current "authorities" (bakkerians). Their ship is called "Titanic" and future finds will prove that, although for clever scientists we have enough proofs now.

Peter Mihalda

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 22 Apr 2009 #permalink

Abelisaurs are, of course, neither dinosaurs nor archosaurs. They are not even diapsids, or amniotes. In fact, they are not even crown group tetrapods. They are highly derived, terrestrial crassigyrinids. There are a whopping TWO synapomorphies to prove that: Short deep skulls, and atrophied forelegs. Of course, the bakkerian/trotskyite/zionist/masonic conspiracy tries to hide the truth, because maintaining the view that abelisaurs are dinosaurs gives them incredible wealth and power. They will probably send their black helicopters after me. But they can't hide the truth forever! :-)

Well. Pharyngula has its creationist wackaloons, Respectful Insolence has its anti-vaccination folks, Aetiology has its HIV-deniers. I guess Peter Mihalda fills in the vacant niche here at Tetrapod Zoology.

Thanks for making me laugh Mihalda XD

Seriously, they aren't the wackaloons, because you are the one that doesn't know that features can be produced via convergent evolution. And quite honestly, saying birds are polyphyletic just proves that a high school student as I am can know more than you.

Again, thanks for your humourous speeches

"But Theropoda might not be monophyletic, as shown by a pelvis of Torvosaurus, very similar to that of prosauropods."

You said it, not me.

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 23 Apr 2009 #permalink

Yes, features can be produced via convergent evolution, and that is the case of "theropods" and bipedal ornithischians.
Caudipteryx is a bird, and it is obviously from a different lineage than Archie.
Where is said that Torvosaurus is evolved from prosauropods because it has a similar pelvis to these herbivores????
Do you know that Herrerasaurus (NO, not a theropod but a basal saurischian) is almost impossible to be distinguished in pelvis (except boot+reversion) and legs from prosauropods (pers obs)?
Abelisaurs....hmmm. A nice story. Abelisaurus itself is a juvenile/small carch, and some Argentinean workers agree, but I cannot name them because Marjanovic would stone me (without permission).
And here is a task for you, bakkerians: name ONE, only one synapomorphy of Saurischia+Ornithischia. Be aware that I shall refute that. The last attempt, made by one Argentinean, was desperate.

Peter Mihalda

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 23 Apr 2009 #permalink

It's always amusing when someone so poorly informed thinks that their viewpoint has merit. Peter, how come you never publish any of this wonderful stuff? Oh, of course, it's because the members of the Evil Palaeontologist Conspiracy are suppressing your work.

Hmm. I know what a dartian is (obviously) but what, precisely, is a "bakkerian"?

Abelisaurus itself is a juvenile/small carch, and some Argentinean workers agree

They did 10 years ago. I don't think they still do. After all, we now have good descriptions of abelisaurid skulls, most notably that of Majungatholus.

More later.

And why on the planet do you suddenly call everyone "bakkerians"? Bakker got lots of things wrong (Phytodinosauria for instance), and still does (he wants to make lots of big theropods aquatic).

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 24 Apr 2009 #permalink

A simple question for Jean-Paul/Peter:
Are there any palaeontologists currently publishing in dinosaur systematics and taxonomy who you don't hold in total contempt?

@Peter Mihalda wrote: "And here is a task for you, bakkerians: name ONE, only one synapomorphy of Saurischia+Ornithischia. Be aware that I shall refute that."

1- Peter, the only "bakkerian" that really exists is probably your own vision of Robert Bakker's works.

2- This is a list of the apomorphies shared by Ornithischia and Saurischia but absent in Silesaurus, Marasuchus and other basal ornithodirans:
(1) foramen-sized post-temporal opening; (2) epipophyses on cervical vertebrae; (3) dorsally expanded cranial margin of first primordial sacral rib; (4) distal apex of deltopectoral crest placed distal to the proximal 30% of the humeral shaft; (5) ventral margin of iliac acetabulum straight to concave, not convex; (6) articulation facet for fibula occupying less that 0.3 of the transverse width of the astragalus. (Langer & Benton, 2006); (7) strongly inturned femoral head , being oriented at less than 120° from the main axis of the femoral head, and distinctively separated from the shaft by a well developed femoral neck; (8) fourth trochanter asymmetrical with the distal margin forming a steeper angle to the shaft (Ezcurra, 2006).

(I hope) we all know that this character list may become obsolete once new taxa are discovered and added, showing that some of these features may be apomorphic for a clade more inclusive than "Saurischia + Ornithischia". Nevertheless, actually, the evidences suggest these as dinosaurian apomorphies: as far as I know, only dinosaurs show the FULL COMBINATION of the 7 characters cited above. So, I think that a monophyletic Dinosauria (="Ornithischia + Saurischia") is the better interpretation of the known character distribution among archosaurs.

Ezcurra M. D. 2006. â A review of the systematic position of the dinosauriform archosaur Eucoelophysis baldwini Sullivan & Lucas, 1999 from the Upper Triassic of New Mexico, USA. Geodiversitas 28 (4) : 649-684.
Langer M.C. & Benton M.J., 2006 - Early Dinosaurs: A Phylogenetic Study. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 4: 309-358.

I see everyone gave the answers I would give while I was absent. Furthermore, isn't Caudipteryx an oviraptor, not a bird? Last time I checked it was proposed that it formed a clade with Avimimus and its obvious sister taxa that I'm not gonna bother mentioning

Caudipteryx and Avimimus share many derived features with oviraptorids (mainly in the mandibular and pelvic bones), and are probably basal members of that lineage. The hypothesis they are birds (member of the "Archaeopteryx+Neornithes" clade) is based mainly on the (wrong) assumption that every "bird-like" character you find has to be considered an avian apomorphy...

Current phylogenies that employ good taxonomic and character sampling indicate that Caudipteryx and others oviraptorosaurs are the sister-group to Paraves (the deinonychosaur + bird clade). It's worth noting that some workers have latched on to MaryaÅska et al. (2002), a study that, obviously, reported inclusion of Oviraptorosauria within Avialae. Feduccia has referred to this study as 'unassailable', and I suppose that he and his colleagues like it because it means that at least some of the feathered maniraptorans are birds after all.

The lack of logic here is incredible: no cladistic study is 'unassailable' and a great many are flawed, with incorrect or erroneous character coding, a non-representative selection of taxa, or with poor support statistics. As it happens, the MaryaÅska et al. (2002) study has problems - the most notable of which is the incredibly low number of included bird taxa. A careful look at their data shows that oviraptorosaurs are only included within Avialae because oviraptorosaurs were found to share characters with Confuciusornis. This is certainly an erroneous result: it doesn't happen in studies with better taxonomic sampling, and it's well known that confuciusornithids and oviraptorosaurs are superficially similar in jaw morphology.

Those who insist that birds cannot be dinosaurs accuse their opponents of cherry-picking the data. This is demonstrably not true: on the contrary, some workers have shown that bird-theropod affinities are firmly supported even when such things as Feduccia's 'avimorph thecodonts' are included. It might be shown eventually that some feathered non-avian maniraptorans are indeed part of the Archaeopteryx + modern birds clade, but the argument that birds had an ancestry somehow separate from that of theropods continues to lack merit.

Ref - -

MaryaÅska, T., Osmólska, H. & Wolsan, M. 2002. Avialan status for Oviraptorosauria. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 47, 97-116.

@Darren Naish wrote:
"As it happens, the MaryaÅska et al. (2002) study has problems - the most notable of which is the incredibly low number of included bird taxa."

I completely agree.
I've added only one taxon, the enantiornithine bird Sinornis, and only three characters (strut-like coracoid, retroverted allux, prominent proximodorsal ischial process) to the data matrix of MaryaÅska et al. (2002).
Using PAUP, this is the resulting topology among Maniraptora (strict consensus of 2 trees):

Alvarezsauridae ( Therizinosauria (Oviraptorosauria*, Dromaeosauridae, Troodontidae (Archaeopteryx, (Confuciusornis, Sinornis)))).

The avialan status for Oviraptorosauria is very very weak.

*showing the same internal topology of the original analysis.

A careful look at their data shows that oviraptorosaurs are only included within Avialae because oviraptorosaurs were found to share characters with Confuciusornis.

Such as toothlessness.

I'm not kidding. That's what happens when there are no toothed birds (and not enough characters) in a matrix.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 24 Apr 2009 #permalink

Yes, Andrea, exactly the work of Ezcurra I meant, but I think Martin does not hold his opinion anymore... like Teresa and Halszka on segnosaurs.
You correctly says "Silesaurus, Marasuchus and other basal ornithodirans" but put there rauisuchians and "your" synapomorphies are destroyed.
It is really interesting that these people speak about groups of animals which they do not know to diagnose.
For example, Theropoda. Of all I may think, it has only one unambiguous synapomorphy:
- the lesser trochanter separated by a cleft
And if you want to retain its original content (Allosaurus+Ceratosaurus) as its creator, Marsh, formed it then (what Sereno calls)
- wing-like lesser trochanter
because Ceratosaurus (Madsen and Welles, 2000) does not have it separated yet.
Now it will be too scientific for most of you. Basal saurischians (prosauropods, herrerasaurs, coelophysids) have a structure called "trochanteric shelf" (see Langer, 2003). So this excludes Torvosaurus, Baryonyx etc and sinks Ceratosauria, Coelurosauria and Carnosauria because... Noasauridae, Sarcosaurus, Genusaurus have the trochanteric shelf while Carnotaurus (pers obs) has a deep cleft, and ornithomims (Gallimimus pers obs) and Sinosauropteryx have the cleft while, and now the most important my friends, oviraptors, velociraptors and troodonts have the lesser and greater trochanters fused into "trochanter femoris" like birds. If you say that this (cleft) has evolved 3 times independently in 3 lineages, it is a plain nonsense of course, and then Theropoda has no synapomorphy. If you claim I am right then your scheme is plain wrong, because you cannot argue either way. But then birds lack the only synapomorphy of Theropoda, and so are...not birds.

Peter Mihalda

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 27 Apr 2009 #permalink

Sorry, the last word should be "theropods" of course.
I have had all three skulls (Carnotaurus, Abelisaurus and Giganotosaurus (=Carcharodontosaurus)) side by side, so was able to compare them in detail. I cannot recall now but think quadrate and quadratojugal bones are almost identical in latter two, and when I asked Argentineans they agreed so it is the end of story for me. Anyway, theropods are too far from dinosaurian origin.
To SOME Carlos: Mays et al (2005) in describing Archaeopteryx also found two lineages leading to birds, so you should smile of yourself for 4 years, my little friend. Caudipteryx is a nice bird, one specimen (C. dongi) preserves a wing, and Jones et al (2000) demonstrated their correct body mass centre - it has enormously elongate metatarsals, unlike oviraptors.
To Darren Naish: I did not publish any of this stuff because I did not observe personally many specimens I need. I did not know there is some "conspiracy commission", is there some? Except for the fact that for example Carpenter should agree that his books, and thus all his work, are wrong.
Bakkerians are those whom Bakker has blown their heads with his sci-fi book. It is pitty that Kranz and some others do not "do" ankylosaurs.

Peter Mihalda

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 27 Apr 2009 #permalink

Peter, I am astonished that you continue to spout such misinformed, naïve nonsense.

-- No, dinosaur synapomorphies are not 'destroyed' when rauisuchians are introduced. Rauisuchians are crurotarsans, and possess a list of characters not present in ornithodirans like dinosaurs. It is true that some rauisuchians possessed some dinosaur-like characters, but this is best explained by a phenomenon called convergent evolution. You seem not to understand that relationships among organisms are reconstructed via an analysis of AS MUCH EVIDENCE AS POSSIBLE: hundreds of characters count, not one, or two or three.

-- Since when is lesser trochanter morphology deemed diagnostic for Theropoda? Most characters unique to Theropoda are present in the hand and foot, and the presence of a furcula is probably unique to the group too. Trochanter morphology within theropods is indeed variable: this is because there is a process termed evolution by which organisms change over time. The trochanteric shelf is not homologous with the lesser trochanter: the former petered away early in tetanuran evolution and is retained as a small tuberosity throughout coelurosaurs (and is still present in birds); the lesser trochanter is a small structure associated with the trochanteric shelf in basal theropods, but it became a large, more proximally oriented structure in tetanurans. Some maniraptorans then fused the lesser trochanter with another, more proximally located structure (the greater trochanter), thereby forming a trochanteric crest such as that seen in birds. All of this has been pretty well documented (Hutchinson 2001 being the best reference).

-- Caudipteryx is not 'a nice bird': it is a basal oviraptorosaur, and character analyses that include tens or hundreds of characters show that oviraptorosaurs are outside of Avialae. Like other non-avian maniraptorans, Caudipteryx does indeed possess remiges (long feathers on its hands, though apparently not on its arms). This does not make it a bird. The Jones et al. study you allude to (it alleged to show that Caudipteryx had 'avian' limb proportions) has conspicuous problems and has been thoroughly discredited (Christiansen & Bonde 2002a, b, Dyke & Norell 2005): it is clear from the data used that the authors wanted to 'prove' that Caudipteryx is a bird.

You HAVE to stop thinking that one or two characters somehow 'trump' tens of others. I should note that, while we should encourage amateurs in our field, your continual insistence that we have got EVERYTHING wrong and are all idiots when you yourself understand so little is particularly grating.

Ref - -

Christiansen, P. & Bonde, N. 2002a. Confusing typology and phylogeny: the "avian" status of Caudipteryx. In Bonde, N. (ed) Palaeontologisk Klub, April 2002, Abstract Volume. Geologisk Institut (Denmark), unpaginated.

- . & Bonde, N. 2002b. Limb proportions and avian terrestrial locomotion. Journal of Ornithology 143, 356-371.

Dyke, D. J. & Norell, M. A. 2005. Caudipteryx as a non-avialan theropod rather than a flightless bird. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 50, 101-116.

Hutchinson, J. R. 2001. The evolution of femoral osteology and soft tissues on the line to extant birds (Neornithes). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 131, 169-197.

Peter Mihalda: Let's return to the original point that Darren was making in this post. Namely, that you, apparently, think that animals with feathers do not engage in vicious physical fights because their plumage might get damaged. (And hence, Velociraptor can not have been feathered.) Is that a fair representation of your opinion, and are you still standing by it?

I am asking because people here have posted plenty of evidence to the contrary, and you have not commented on it at all. The evidence, which includes photographs and video footage, clearly shows that various modern birds occasionally do fight every bit as ferociously as Velociraptor might have done (although in a smaller format, naturally), and that while fighting, birds often don't seem to show the slightest concern for their plumage. Has this not changed your opinion about the potential fighting behaviour of feathered animals?

Or, to put it another way: Are you, or are you not, willing to admit that the idea that animals with feathers will not engage in physical combat is wrong?

I cannot recall now but think quadrate and quadratojugal bones are almost identical in latter two, and when I asked Argentineans they agreed so it is the end of story for me.

How stupid. You didn't even try to find out if that similarity is apomorphic or plesiomorphic!

Also, as I've told you ten or fifteen times before, "unambiguous autapomorphy of Theropoda" does neither mean that no other animal has ever evolved that character state, nor that no theropod has ever secondarily lost it. It just means that the first theropod had it and the first sauropodomorph lacked it.

I have one of the papers that disprove the Jones et al. "study"; I'll send you the pdf.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 28 Apr 2009 #permalink

Looks that its he that will be laughing at himself for four years, not me :)

As an aside, I'm starting to think he's too dumb to digest any of that information (yeah, I'm a true Captain Obvious).

Rauhut (2000) also found, among 15 characters, "wing-like lesser trochanter" as a synapomorphy of Ceratosauria+Tetanurae. Well, unless one cannot distinguish skulls of Torvosaurus and Prestosuchus, all cranial features are deleted. Then he lists opisthocoely and pleurocoels which are gradually evolved also in sauropodomorphs, throughout evolution, ie primitive vs derived. Invalid. Other characters are vague.
But is Rauhut aware that Noasauridae, Genusaurus and Sarcosaurus lacks the trochanteric character?
Darren Naish once again showed his lack of knowledge - of course the trochanteric shelf is a part of the lesser trochanter (read Langer 2003 online), and is very different from "deep cleft on lesser trochanter".
Dilophosaurus was almost certainly quadrupedal, as shown by its enormously long torso and feet preserved in the right angle to tibia+fibula. Not a theropod.
Caudipteryx is a bird, based on everything except for non-reversed pubes.
To "dinosaur synapomorphies" I shall return when more time.

Peter Mihalda

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 28 Apr 2009 #permalink

Darren Naish has a lot more knowledge than you, considering that you ignore the very large backlegs of Dilophosaurus and you keep insisting Caudipteryx is a bird despiste the bigger similarities with other oviraptors than with Aves. Quite honestly, you're more of a shame to mankind than a valid researcher

Arguing with Peter is like arguing with a creationist: he always introduces a new 'argument' that is erroneous and based on fundamental ignorance and misunderstanding. I think I should stop because it clearly encourages him. Peter: (1) Rauhut's Ceratosauria + Tetanurae does not equal Theropoda, (2) members of a given group do not have to possess the same character state throughout their evolution, (3) you have misunderstood Langer (2003) on trochanteric shelf/lesser trochanter homology (and, by the way, you should probably read more than one paper on this subject), and (4) you are talking complete crap on Dilophosaurus.

Well, unless one cannot distinguish skulls of Torvosaurus and Prestosuchus, all cranial features are deleted.

2) Everyone except you can distinguish the skulls of Torvosaurus and Prestosuchus.
1) Your logic is still wrong. We aren't trying to find out what the skull of Torvosaurus is related to; we're trying to find out what the whole animal is related to. You must not ignore any preserved part of the body.

Then he lists opisthocoely and pleurocoels which are gradually evolved also in sauropodomorphs, throughout evolution, ie primitive vs derived. Invalid.

You act as if convergence were an extremely rare phenomenon. You're as ignorant as a creationist. Character states that have evolved only once are extremely rare. Convergence is normal â and your lack-of-a-method is completely incapable of detecting it.

But is Rauhut aware that Noasauridae, Genusaurus and Sarcosaurus lacks the trochanteric character?

So what? Three independent (convergent) secondary losses. Evolution happens! No character is immune from it.

Dilophosaurus was almost certainly quadrupedal, as shown by its enormously long torso and feet preserved in the right angle to tibia+fibula.

:-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

"Enormously long"? What about yourself? What about Plateosaurus, which was obligatorily bipedal (have a good, hard look at its forearms)?

And really, all birds are capable of making a right angle between the lower leg and the foot. Do you know anything, actually?

Caudipteryx is a bird, based on everything except for non-reversed pubes.

"Everything". ROTFL! If Caudipteryx is a bird, all oviraptorosaurs are birds.

Really, the core of your ignorance is that you don't know that the principle of parsimony is one of the two parts of the scientific method.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 29 Apr 2009 #permalink

Dear friends, do you want to see REAL human rubbish in action?
http://www.mnhn.fr/museum/front/medias/publication/9255_g06n4a5.pdf
Fig 4, take a very good look at F (Coelophysis), the very same structure shown from two angles is called "cranial (=lesser) trochanter" while in some others it is called "trochanteric shelf". What one may add? It is up to you to resolute who is right (although even it s name "trochanteric" suggests it belongs to the trochanter).
I have seen more prosauropod femora than Naish can image. For example, Yates and Kitching (2003) in Antetonitrus just call it "crest-like lesser trochanter", and it is the same.
But here my point was to show that I call "Theropoda" carnivores which evolved "deep cleft" (hey, Coelurus and Ornitholes too, they are not maniraptors!). Do you agree they all arose from one ancestor? By the way, if you argue that "dinosaurs" evolved from a form with a shelf then you have one more problem - ornithischians do not have it.
And come on, Darren, name those "theropod synapomorphies" on arms and feet. But Darren Naish wants to finnish, because his scientific arguments are over. I know that characters disappear during evolution, but why noasaurs + Genusaurus + Sarcosaurus returned to the primitive condition? And why many others argue that opisthocoelous centra are a synapomorphy of Tetanurae when tyrannosaurs and coelurosaurs have the primitive condition - amphicoelous (strange)? Because those are plesiomorphies!
Interestingly, Rauhut (2000) used my method, and destroyed Coelophysoidea showing 3 characters are present in more primitive saurischians, so are plesiomorphies. I did the same, and found 3 saurischian unambiguos synapomorphies of Ezcurra to be plesiomorphies of Aetosauria+Rauisuchia, namely
- laminated dorsals
- hyposphene-hypantrum
- supracetabular crest
This requires further comments. Sometimes, like in this case , it happens that a wrong outgroup is chosen. Here Martin used Lesothosaurus+Heterodontosaurus as basalmost ornithischians, which is wrong. Laminated dorsals and supracetabular crest are present in thyreophorans, and hypantrum is reported in several ornithischians (although I am not aware of hyposphene). Maybe better observations and descriptions of dorsals of basal thyreophorans show more.
I also ask Marjanovic to distinguish those skulls in question, I look forward to. It is said that people who are very wrong (Carlos) may insult others. Has he ever seen how "very large backlegs" of crocodiles are? I hope he studies something which has nothing with biology, and hope when he is older he finds how stupid he was.
Sorry, I shall not comment feathers and birds which I am not much interested in.

Peter Mihalda

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 29 Apr 2009 #permalink

Peter - the only rubbish is the stuff that comes from you. If you have a point to make on trochanteric shelves and lesser trochanters, it's lost on me. The trochanteric shelf is a sigmoidal structure on the side of the femoral shelf. The lesser trochanter arises from the anterior edge of the shelf ancestrally, but later seems to have moved proximally, eventually becoming well removed from the shelf. Because of its origin, the lesser trochanter might be a specialised segment of the trochanteric shelf, but if this is what you're trying to say I cannot congratulate you on your explanation.

Ornithischians do indeed lack a trochanteric shelf. Given the large number of characters which show that ornithischians are nested within Dinosauria and Dinosauromorpha, we employ a principle called parsimony: the most likely explanation is that ornithischians reduced and lost this structure. Why are things like this so hard for you to understand? I assume, of course, that you accept the reality of evolution.

Theropod synapomorphies in hands and feet: manual digit V absent, manual digit IV reduced to metacarpal and one phalanx, deep dorsal extensor pits on distal ends of metacarpals, penultimate phalanx of manual digit II longer than first phalanx, reduction of pedal digits I and V.

In answer to your other assorted ramblings: (1) evolution happens, (2) reversals and convergences are common, (3) we reconstruct phylogenies based on large amounts of data, not by picking and choosing one or two characters, and (4) your view of archosaur and dinosaur phylogeny is radically strange and you are wrong in all of your contentions.

By the way 'Peter' we are all looking forward to the moment when you explain how your strong racist views have helped you better understand dinosaur phylogeny. Please help confirm what a dedicated anti-intellectual you are.

By Bradley Fierstine (not verified) on 29 Apr 2009 #permalink

I did the same, and found 3 saurischian unambiguos synapomorphies of Ezcurra to be plesiomorphies of Aetosauria+Rauisuchia

You have misunderstood the terms "plesiomorphy" and "unambiguous synapomorphy".

I have explained what "unambiguous synapomorphy" means, and what it does not mean, above. FUCKING READ THAT AT LAST.

The three characters simply arose twice: once in the origin of Saurischia, and once in the origin of whatever the smallest clade is that both aëtosaurs and rauisuchians belong to. They are thus both unambiguous autapomorphies of Saurischia and unambiguous synapomorphies of aëtosaurs and rauisuchians.

I also ask Marjanovic to distinguish those skulls in question, I look forward to.

Soon. In the meantime, take the National Geographic Polska issue that presents the "Dragon from Lisowice" (Smok z Lisowic) â I'm sure you can get it â and the following paper, compare them, and tell me why the "dragon" is a rauisuchian (closely related to Postosuchus) and not a dinosaur, as everyone except the discoverers now seems to agree. It's very easy.

Karin Peyer, Joseph Carter, Hans-Dieter Sues, Stephanie Novak & Paul Olsen: A new suchian archosaur from the Upper Triassic of North Carolina, JVP 28(2), 363â381 (12 June 2008)

It is said that people who are very wrong (Carlos) may insult others. Has he ever seen how "very large backlegs" of crocodiles are? I hope he studies something which has nothing with biology, and hope when he is older he finds how stupid he was.

Says the guy who didn't even know horses have digits! :-D

Sorry, I shall not comment feathers and birds which I am not much interested in.

You did already comment on them, hypocrite.

I assume, of course, that you accept the reality of evolution.

Funnily, he does, even though he uses cretinist "logic" throughout.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 30 Apr 2009 #permalink

@Peter Mihalda: Ironically, you are the one that is stupid here. You state Dilophosaurus was quadrupedal; well, study physics, stupid fucktard. And I don't commit nowhere as many grammar mistakes as you do :P

Poor idiot, humiliating himself as he does (Peter/Jean, of course)

Darren Naish has recommended me to read more about lesser trochanters. O.K. Sereno and Arcucci (1994) "...anterior (=lesser) trochanter developed as a trochanteric shelf". Seems that all experts on subject except Naish and his kin agree that it is a shape of the very same structure.
Then we have Clark et al (1994), unambiguous cranial synapomorphies of Ceratosauria+Tetanurae, interdental plates "presence of...thus far has been identified only in theropods". Adam was not sitting at school, and did not know the alphabet. Teratosaurus (Huene, 1907, Galton, 1985), Postosuchus (Chatterjee, 1985), and other rauisuchids have interdental plates, and many of them fused. Eshanosaurus, a dentary impossible to distinguish from that of Lufengosaurus, has them like all segnosaurs and many prosauropods.
Further Clark et al, 1994. "Accessory antorbital fenestra". As this is present in Herrerasaurus (pers obs) and Eoraptor (pers obs) and Syntarsus, but absent in Coelophysis (pers obs) and Torvosaurus (Britt, 1991), this has obviously evolved in parallel in several carnivorous lineages.
Marjanovis, instead of naming what I asked him for, hides behind some article. Galton tried that in 1985, based on personal examination of selected specimens, and failed except for the aforementioned fenestra. But Marjanovic, like one more primitive, now only curses like a pub hooligan, and such primitives should not be accessed to any scientific forum. Darren, cannot you do something with that?
Synapomorphies of Theropoda presented by Darren Naish are in error, of course. The first two are not valid in Coelophysis, which you call a theropod. Further, segnosaurs also reduced their manual digits IV and V, and if you know prosauropod hands, they are already reduced there. No 3 I cannot comment. No 4 varies in theropods, and prosauropods. Just by the way, Deinocheirus (pers obs) has digit III the longest, and it is almost certainly a segnosaur. No 5 is already present in prosauropods, Herrerasaurus (read Langer 2003) and certainly in some rauisuchids. BTW, Torvosaurus has very broad metatarsals (Britt, 1991).
There is potentially one more theropod synapomorphy, but it may be of some later clade because we do not know when it had evolved for the first time
- dorsal margins of ilia closely spaced
For Dilophosaurus look at Berkeley web page, and forget the mounted skeleton - it is a bakkerian model. The worst bakkerianism I have seen is an erected tail of Diplodocus, but maybe SOME Carlos from some kindergarden believes that.

Bradley Fierstine, who you are and what you are speaking about?? But I may point you some European racists - all Germans (Switzerland, Duitsland and Austria) which block people from Schengen to work there. Wake up, dear Bradley, and speak about science if you have anything to say.

Peter Mihalda

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 04 May 2009 #permalink

Naish and his kin

"Kin" means "relatives", so you're talking about his family. You might try "ilk" instead. :-)

Marjanovis [sic!], instead of naming what I asked him for

Moron, do you believe my time is unlimited!?! I'm writing my thesis!

You're just jealous because I'm an SVP member and you never bothered to apply. If you want, I can send you the paper on the new Postosuchus species. Finding pictures of the "dragon of Lisowice" is your business, but there are probably lots on the web. images.google.com is your friend.

and such primitives should not be accessed to any scientific forum.

:-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

Once more, you show that you haven't been around scientists much. (And once more you behave like a creationist.) I once was present when two of the big names in tetrapod phylogeny got louder and louder with each other; I fully expected them to jump at each other's throat. Shortly before I'd have intervened, however, one of them pulled out a piece of evidence that the other one had overlooked, and the discussion decreased in volume (slowly).

Scientists ultimately don't care about politeness. Being right and being polite are two different pairs of shoes!

Synapomorphies of Theropoda presented by Darren Naish are in error, of course. The first two are not valid in Coelophysis, which you call a theropod.

You still haven't understood!

All theropods have the right to secondarily lose every single theropod autapomorphy. Some of them made use of that right. You see, natural selection goes wherever the environment pushes it. It cannot say "oh no, we've had that before, we must not revert".

Really, how did you imagine evolution happens? You don't seem to know any more of it than a creationist.

Further, segnosaurs also reduced their manual digits IV and V,

Irrelevant, because they are theropods, as almost every single bone in their skeletons shows.

and if you know prosauropod hands, they are already reduced there.

Yes, they're reduced in all archosaurs (except for the wing finger of pterosaurs). Theropods, however, took that reduction to the next level, and that's what Darren is talking about. Most notably, theropods have completely lost the 5th finger and reduced the 4th to just 2 phalanges (or less).

No 4 varies in theropods, and prosauropods.

All irrelevant, as long as the first theropod had it and the first sauropodomorph lacked it.

Snakes are still tetrapods!

The worst bakkerianism I have seen is an erected tail of Diplodocus

:-D :-D :-D

LOL. Try to articulate Diplodocus with a dragged tail. Good luck.

Yes, I know about the specialized chevrons. They all touch the ground when the animal assumes a tripodal stance. When it's quadrupedal, the cranialmost ones don't touch the ground, no matter how the tail is mounted, as you can observe in the mount in Vienna.

But I may point you some European racists

Doesn't say anything about you. Well, wait, actually it does -- it once more points out your ignorance of what an individual is.

And no, I'm not a German. You take that back.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 04 May 2009 #permalink

More erroneous bullshit from Peter Mihalda/Jean-Pierre D'Amour/Jean-Paul Bellmondo, thanks. Quite why you decided to pull in comments from a single paper published in 1994 I don't understand. Response to main comments...

-- As noted above, the trochanteric shelf and lesser trochanter may indeed have originated in close contact, yes, but they became distinct structures later on in dinosaur evolution. I have no idea why you are continuing to argue with this: I contend that it's because you think you found one character that contradicts the theropod ancestry of birds, and are STILL labouring under the misguided idea that one super-special, magic character can outweigh tens of others.

-- Manual digit reduction is indeed present in Coelophysis: V is absent, and IV is reduced to a metacarpal and one phalanx.

-- Whether you like it or not, Dilophosaurus is a theropod, and sauropod tails were held up off the ground.

Your many amusing comments do suggest that I should do an 'I get email' series. On the other hand, it would not be wise to expose more people to your innane nonsense.

"[...]but maybe SOME Carlos from some kindergarden believes that."

Ha! Don't make me laugh, you pathetic piece of shit. You clearly cannot tell the difference between a retard (like you) and experts (like David Marjanovic and Darren Naish).

Furthermore, how can you be so stupid to the point of rendering the whole clade Theropoda polyphyletic? By the early Jurassic the two mass extinctions from the Triassic should had exterminated any attempts of sauropodomorphs to into getting in carnivorous niches; compare the situation on post-Oligocene Cenozoic with mammals. Also, your beliefs ornithcians are actually aetosaurs aren't supported by logic; aetosaurs, a clade of slow, iguana/alligator like herbivores, would NEVER produced fast cursorial forms, which early ornithicians appearently were. It would take a faster, omnivorous ancestor like early ornithodirans to produce the early ornithicians like heterodontosaurs (which don't look like aetosaurs, mind you)

Your many amusing comments do suggest that I should do an 'I get email' series. On the other hand, it would not be wise to expose more people to your innane nonsense.

It might still be a good idea, because "nobody is useless -- they can still serve as a bad example". It would show how not to do it. It could be very educational in terms of "how do we know what we know".

...Which latter part, however, would suck all your time up, I fear.

experts (like David Marjanovic and Darren Naish).

Well. Darren has done a six-year thesis on theropod phylogeny. I'm doing a three-year thesis* on tetrapod phylogeny with special consideration of the origins of lissamphibians and turtles. That I can fairly reliably tell a theropod from a rauisuchian doesn't make me an expert on archosaurs...

* Limited in France.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 04 May 2009 #permalink

"That I can fairly reliably tell a theropod from a rauisuchian doesn't make me an expert on archosaurs..."

True; I wonder why Peter couldn't even look at the ankle when he pointed out trivial aspects.

"Next thing you know, Peter's going to tell us that pterosaurs are lizards with horsetails and vampire fangs."

Only under my decayed carcasse (how do you spell it?) will anyone ever claim pterosaurs are lepidosaurs! Specially considering how David Peters lost in the battle, and how strong the connection between pterosaurs and archosaurs in general (specially ornithodirans) is.

But both groups have an elongate fifth toe! That ONE CHARACTER totally solidifies their relationship. All those similarities to ornithodirans are convergent. You "expects" are covering up the truth! It's a conspiracy!

*heavy sarcasm, of course*

But pterodactyloids have a notarium...does that mean they are birds, while other pterosaurs evolved convergently?

And diprotodonts have a glire like dention; they are marsupial glires!

(sarcasm mode, obviously)

First, my name is Peter Mihalda. So if you use other names please contact those persons. ALthough I think Bellmondo would not speak with you...
Now to science. There are new specimens of Coelophysis with preserved digits IV and V, but in any case Liliensternus has a 5-dactyl manus, with II, III and IV subequal. Then we do not know many hands of basal theropods and early saurischians - among them Torvosaurus - but again, Teratosaurus minor (Huene, 1907, Fig 189) has II-2>II-1 (No 4 of Naish), and no phalanx on V, the latter like Ammosaurus (Galton, 1971) and Thecodontosaurus (Galton, 1973). In fact, Yates and Kitching (2003) found in Efraasia and above
- manual digits IV and V with more than 2 and zero phalanges, resp
and (this is No3 of Naish)
- loss of distal extensor pits on mtc II and III,
so logically they are present in more primitive taxa (Saturnalia+Thecodontosaurus).
No 5 of Naish is indeed present in theropods (sensu Ostrom (1978) and Paul (1988)), but it is also in Procompsognathus (pers obs, Ostrom (1978) Fig 16). It is a theropod? It is a carnivorous pseudosuchian of some sort, something like Eoraptor. But its foot is terribly mounted - in order to hold mtts erected, there is an unnatural bump between distal ends of crus and mtts. I have some good photos of that.

I worry very much that most people (among them primitives of all calibres to children who have nothing to say) on this forum in fact do not know what they are speaking about. Namely, Marasuchus. Have they ever seen it? It lacks dorsal laminae and hyposphene-hypantrum (Bonaparte, 1975, 1999), its ilium has a distal triangle with a fully closed acetabulum, and if they say its "theropod ankle and metatarsals" are the only possible candidate for an ancestry of dinosaurs (here those psychopaths have NO idea what they speak about) look at the foot of a nodosaur
http://scientists.dmns.org/Kencarpenter/PDFs/Ankylosaur%20Library/Mehl-…

Bravoo!! Just by the way, Pachysaurus ajax (Huene, 1907) has 2 phalanges on mtt V, one more than ANY "dinosaur".

Good night, experts.

Not to forget, I have one "novelty" for you - Hallopus is a theropod, it has the lesser trochanter separated by a deep cleft (Marsh, 1878, 1895). Darren Naish, despite its "enormous" effort, brought no synapomorphy of Theropoda except for this one. Why I should not argue with a paper from 1994 (or 1894) is a secret for me...

Peter Mihalda

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 04 May 2009 #permalink

IS this person for real, or is it all a joke to make us keep checking comments?

By K. Yamara (not verified) on 04 May 2009 #permalink

True; I wonder why Peter couldn't even look at the ankle when he pointed out trivial aspects.

He ignores the ankle for being a single character.

Never mind the hip joint, the toes, the shape and size of the antorbital fenestra and fossa, etc. ad infinitum vel nauseam.

First, my name is Peter Mihalda. So if you use other names please contact those persons. ALthough I think Bellmondo would not speak with you...

Come on. You've been using two names for years and introduced the third one a few days ago. You are the one who's playing silly games here.

I worry very much that most people (among them primitives of all calibres to children who have nothing to say) on this forum in fact do not know what they are speaking about. Namely, Marasuchus. Have they ever seen it? It lacks dorsal laminae and hyposphene-hypantrum (Bonaparte, 1975, 1999), its ilium has a distal triangle with a fully closed acetabulum, and if they say its "theropod ankle and metatarsals" are the only possible candidate for an ancestry of dinosaurs (here those psychopaths have NO idea what they speak about) look at the foot of a nodosaur

What the fuck?

Theropods and nodosaurids are (a bit) more closely related to each other than they are to Marasuchus. Nobody except you and maybe Bakker has ever called Marasuchus a theropod!

Marasuchus is not a saurischian, so it's expected to lack hyposphene & hypantrum, as indeed it does. And then you tell us that's a problem???

Just by the way, Pachysaurus ajax (Huene, 1907) has 2 phalanges on mtt V, one more than ANY "dinosaur".

Is that so? I haven't got Huene 1907. I can't look it up.

Hey, maybe the reconstruction is just wrong. Or it's a rauisuchian. Or it's a freak anomaly, like how the fourth toe has only four phalanges in the Solnhofen specimen of Archaeopteryx, and how there are people with three phalanges in the thumb.

Hallopus is a theropod, it has the lesser trochanter separated by a deep cleft (Marsh, 1878, 1895).

Nope. Look at the rest of the animal.

Once again: When we say that a list of characters are autapomorphies of Theropoda, we mean that the first theropod had them, while its immediate ancestor (the last common ancestor of Theropoda and Sauropodomorpha) lacked them. Then evolution takes over! The entire list can disappear. Nothing stops it.

Are extant whales not mammals because their teeth (when present) are homodont? Moron.

IS this person for real, or is it all a joke to make us keep checking comments?

Too paranoid, insane, and persistent to be a joke. He's been going for eight years at the very least, sending e-mails to everyone who has ever mentioned the subject online.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 05 May 2009 #permalink

Peter Mihalda/Jean-Pierre D'Amour/Jean-Paul Bellmondo: you are the worst kind of internet troll. You are persistently aggressive, you use uninformed, erroneous arguments that betray a woeful ignorance, and yet you seem so confident that all of the qualified experts who publish on archosaur morphology and phylogeny are flat-out wrong about EVERYTHING. The way you suddenly introduce irrelevant comments (that is, irrelevant to the issue that you were discussing previously) is bizarre and illogical â why do you insist on wandering all about the place when constructing your responses?

-- âPachysaurus ajaxâ (a nomen nudum: and note that the generic name Pachysaurus is preoccupied) was re-evaluated by Galton in 2001. Of pedal digit V, he listed only phalanx 1. Hueneâs reconstruction of 1907-8 cannot be trusted.

-- Efraasia and other sauropodomorphs do indeed have phalanges on manual digits IV and V, yes. What is your point? Reading between the lines, you seem to be saying that these sauropodomorphs are theropods. Good luck with that.

-- Yes, the foot of Procompsognathus is theropod-like. Thatâs because Procompsognathus is a theropod.

-- Marasuchus (a non-dinosaur) does indeed lack the synapomorphies of Theropoda and Saurischia. And?

-- The crocodylomorph Hallopus and nodosaurid feet are all irrelevant to the previous topic of discussion.

Arguing with you is simply a waste of time.

[update: I made a mistake on Pachysaurus ajax - it was a nomen nudum when referred to by Huene in 1905, but became a properly available name when he described it in his 1907-08 paper.]

a nomen nudum

Wow, so von Huene didn't even describe it, and neither did anyone else? And then our troll comes and uses this de facto unpublished thing for an argument?

Staggering.

BTW, von Huene often reconstructed more phalanges than he found... and our troll here doesn't speak German, so he has to take the drawings at face value and can't find out what the text says about them.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 05 May 2009 #permalink

I am glad soon I shall become Thomas A Edison...
Yes I am confident about what I speak because I have spent a lot of time upon that, so I know I skate on a VERY solid ice. To the contrary, arguing of Darren Naish lacks logic. He speaks about monophyletic groups, tries to support them with synapomorphies which lack a thread.
Manual synapomorphies of Theropoda are weak. The MRCA of Theropoda (=carnivorous saurischians with the lesser trochanter separated by a deep cleft) entered this group with 4 (four) manual digits. Proof: Sinraptor dongi (Currie and Zhao, 1993) has both the cleft and 4-dactyl manus. So contra Gauthier, 1986, Sereno et al, 1994, though not already ibid 1996, and Holtz, 1994, this (absence of manual digit IV) cannot be a synapomorphy of Tetanurae, which is an artificial group. So theropods reduced their manual formula later,contra many others. Also, most hands are unknown so do not rely much on this.
It is a pitty no one has answered whether this (the cleft) forms a monophyletic group. In any case, Ceratosauria is paraphyletic, formed of basal saurischians (you know them), ABelisaurus a carcharodontosaurid, and carnotaurids derived theropods. As I believe, Ceratosaurus might be a possible candidate for the MRCA of theropods, with the wing-like lesser trochanter, here

http://ugspub.nr.utah.gov/publications/misc_pubs/MP-00-2.pdf
Note the authors signed "trochanteric shelf" which Naish and some others (but not most others) interpret a different way. You may all see it is a distal portion of the trochanter.
Pachysaurus ajax is NOT a nomen nudum, it has a diagnosis, description+figures, do not listen to that who is not familiar with. Efraasia has a phalanx on V, but "Teratosaurus" minor not, as seen on a very different distal end of mtcV compared to others, and none phalanx has been found on an articulated hand. Reading between lines I am saying it is a plesiomorphy. Procompsognathus a theropod? Then several carnivorous pseudosuchians (eg Saltoposuchus) are so. Any way, coelophysids might be descendantd of these forms, as shown by their ilium, and this is not illogical because in my scheme traditional Theropoda is paraphyletic.
If Hallopus is a croc, name other crocodiles with the cleft on femur. Here: good luck!
But in one point I do not understand at all: Marjanovic and Naish argue that "why should Marasuchus has saurischian synapomorphies"? Except that it is partially untrue (supracetabular crest, trochanteric shelf, mtts, astragalus), why it should not have? Because someone just chose Marasuchus to be a dinosaur ancestor??? This is much more bizzare than what I say.
Naish also claims that everything I say is wrong. O.K. so it is wrong that rauisuchids have hyposphene-hypantrum? That they have laminated dorsals? That they have a supracetabular crest? That their skulls are impossible to distinguish from that of Torvosaurus? All right, I am not scared, so people can see who is right and who mistificates them, and screams to that who is right "you are wrong". Welcome:
http://etd.lib.ttu.edu/theses/available/etd-07312008-31295017084608/unr…

Nodosaurid feet are "irrelevant" because these guys have a BIG problem to link "dinosauromorphs", saurischians and ankylosaurs, so they have (voluntarily) chosen Heterodontosaurus+Lesothosaurus to be the most primitive ornithischians. As I demonstrated to Butler this is plain wrong on many plesiomorphies of thyreophorans and many derived synapomorphies of Lesothosaurus.
These people should realize first what they advocate at all.

Peter Mihalda

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 05 May 2009 #permalink

The troll of many names returns...

Ok: I honestly do not have the time to continue to argue with all the points you raise, even though virtually all of what you say is incorrect and contestable (and, sorry, I was obviously wrong about Pachysaurus ajax being a nomen nudum, silly me). What is most amazing is the fact that you still think that plesiomorphies and obvious cases of convergence (e.g., similar characters in certain crurotarsans and certain saurischians) provide compelling evidence for relatedness. You also seem incapable of understanding what others say: REDUCED manual digit IV is a probable theropod synapomorphy, not ABSENT manual digit IV, for example. And stop saying that theropod skulls (e.g., Torvosaurus) cannot be distinguished from those of rauisuchians. They might be superficially similar, but they are very different in detail.

How can you be so arrogant as to think that you are correct when everything you say contradicts the conclusions meticulously documented in the peer-reviewed literature? All of your ideas are crap, and you should read the modern literature carefully to see why students of the Archosauria have reached the phylogenetic conclusions that they have. Yet again I will say that phylogenetic hypotheses have been constructed following the examination of tens or hundreds of characters, not one, or two, or three.

Ladies and gentlemen, if there ever was a fringe nutcase in archosaur research, Peter Mihalda/Jean-Pierre D'Amour/Jean-Paul Bellmondo wins the prize - congratulations!

Following Peter/Jean-Pierre/Jean-Paul illogical method, I can demostrate that Homo sapiens is a primitive ornithurine bird: this is "well" supported by expanded frontals, very reduced tail, fused clavicles, ulna/humerus > 0.8, ossified sternum, absence of postfrontal, absence of osteoderms, parasagittal bipedal posture, patella, fused dentary.

If thousands of other characters show I'm wrong, I don't care, I'm a Mihaldaian: I'm the Only True Believer of the Right Phylogeny and the Son of Arrogance!

By The Pope of th… (not verified) on 06 May 2009 #permalink

Are you based at The Vatican? :)

By Sockpuppetmonster (not verified) on 06 May 2009 #permalink

Proof: Sinraptor dongi (Currie and Zhao, 1993) has both the cleft and 4-dactyl manus.

It has a manus with four metacarpals, of which the fourth is reduced and lacks phalanges. It does not end in a joint. So, whether Sinraptor has four "digits" depends on your definition of "digit".

For crying out loud, have you even seen the paper you cite? Just parroting the abstract is never a good idea.

Torvosaurus? Let's do the experiment. I don't know by heart what the maxilla of T. looks like and can't easily look it up right now. Send me a picture of just the maxilla of Torvosaurus in lateral view -- it's not even necessary that I see the whole skull, though obviously that would help --, and a picture of the maxilla of any rauisuchian of your choice in lateral view, and I'll tell you which is which.

Following Peter/Jean-Pierre/Jean-Paul illogical method, I can demostrate that Homo sapiens is a primitive ornithurine bird:

Liar. In reality, we're carcharodontosaurid pachypleurosaurs because we've got fused frontals!!!1!eleventyone!!

(More seriously, what do you mean by "fused clavicles"? Is that part of the joke?)

Peter, will you attend the SVP meeting this year (Bristol, September 23rd to 26th) to accept the Homer Simpson Medal?

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 06 May 2009 #permalink

D'oh!
It is part of the joke.
Fused frontals? False!
I am confident about what I speak because I have spent a lot of time upon that, so I know I skate on a VERY solid ice. To the contrary, arguing of your bakkerian carcharodontosaurid theory lacks logic. You speak about monophyletic groups, try to support them with synapomorphies which lack a thread.
Humans are birds! No man or beast or demon or detailed comparison among the entire body of all tetrapods made by 666 naturalists can change what Trocanther, The One and Migthy, says!

Now, I have to go. The Last Common Ancestors of Men and Birds (aka Angels) are calling me.

I wont'speak anymore.

By The Pope of th… (not verified) on 06 May 2009 #permalink

Fused frontals? False!

Not bad, Your Holiness. In general, anthropoids, carcharodontosaurids, and pachypleurosaurs (among several others) have fused frontals, so yours most likely fused when you were still a baby; though in some people they don't fuse. I've seen skulls with a suture between the frontals. Individual variation! OH NOES!!!1!

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 06 May 2009 #permalink

Bakker and Galton, 1974: "The vertebral column of early dinosaurs was stiffened to inhibit lateral undulations by the development of extra vertebral articulations, the hyposphene-hypantra in saurischians..." Yes, and rauisuchids which are INDEED early saurischians. This is not a similarity but a derived synapomorphy. Even worse for these people, aetosaurs also have this special complex (find some articles - better thesis - of Martz or others). Darren Naish wants to have Theropoda, and Saurischia, monophyletic but it does not work his way. He says the theropod foot is a synapomorphy, but then prosauropods and herrerasaurs, and perhaps others, are not saurischians because they lack this foot but have hyposphene-hypantra and dorsal laminae. It cannot work either way - either ban prosauropods+herrerasaurs from Saurischia, or include Rauisuchia there! I am personally surprised why these individuals fight so vehemently about rauisuchids to be saurischians and theropod ancestors - I am sure it is more difficult to advocate a prosauropod origin from basal carnivorous saurischians (because of many many more different characters), and sauropods from prosauropods (because the former is just several lineages of the latter).
Further Bakker and Galton, 1974: "Could the similar postcranial adaptations of Triassic dinosaurs reflect merely convergent evolution of the erect gait from different thecodontians?" Beyond any doubt. A fully open acetabulum of ornithischians has appeared the first time in Scelidosaurus (a thyreophoran offspring leading to ornithopods) with a functional 4-dactyl pes. In fact, Heterodontosaurus and Lesothosaurus have "theropod foot" (mtt I distally attached on mtt II), and moreover the lesser trochanter separated by a deep cleft, and this has evolved in parallel. Or are they early herbivorous theropods? This type of foot has been evolved from 5-dactyl foot of ankylosaur via 4-dactyl of Scelidosaurus, via versa it is hardly possible (then they change plesiomorphies for novelties).
Crurotarsi is an artificial group, like Arctometatarsalia, and should be abandonned.
It is up to people, whether they believe that hyposphene-hypantrum and lamiane on neural arches are easier to evolve than some "theropod foot", which is also present in some ornithopods (hence the name "bird foot").

It is also quite strange how Darren Naish advocates himself, trying to hide behind a work of many others. But everyone has his defence, and when Titanic comming to the bottom it is no surprise. I may only answer - it is THEIR problem they are wrong, not mine.
I am not surprise either that Marjanovic has no idea about Torvosaurus skull, so I send him one (there are better online). Naish again speaks generally but brings no specific characters so "very different in detail".

https://www.uen.org/utahlink/tours/admin/tour/17181/17181Torvosaurus2.j…

Seems that it is serious with them - even those screaming geezers have disappeared, who knew nothing about the topic.
If you need some help - do not hesitate to ask me.

Peter Mihalda

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 06 May 2009 #permalink

I am so tired of saying the same things. Look, when I am wrong I will happily admit it. My contention that Crurotarsi (= Pseudosuchia), Dinosauria, Ornithischia, Saurischia, Sauropodomorpha and Theropoda are monophyletic; that theropods are (in part) diagnosed by a bird-like foot where mt I does not reach the ankle and digit V is strongly reduced; that rauisuchians and aetosaurs (even with dorsal laminae and hyposphenes and hypantra) are not dinosaurs but crurotarsans; that the saurischian-like characters present in some crurotarsans represent either plesiomorphies or convergences; and that the skull of Torvosaurus is EASILY DISTINGUISHABLE from a rauisuchian are well supported, correct statements.

And they are not 'my' ideas of course: they are supported by an international community of qualified experts who have built up this picture by looking at hundreds of specimens and hundreds of morphological characters. The data concerned has been analysed and pored over in a substantial peer-reviewed literature.

You, on the other hand, are simply a naive moron on the lunatic fringe, and I see every indication that you will remain there. Your entire approach to archosaur phylogeny can be summed up in the following sentence: one, or two, or three superficially similar characters are good enough to overturn tens or hundreds of others. Go back to your cave and leave the world of science alone.

It cannot work either way - either ban prosauropods+herrerasaurs from Saurischia, or include Rauisuchia there!

The scientific method consists of two principles: falsifiability and parsimony.

I'll just leave it at that.

"Could the similar postcranial adaptations of Triassic dinosaurs reflect merely convergent evolution of the erect gait from different thecodontians?" Beyond any doubt. A fully open acetabulum of ornithischians

You misunderstand that feature. When the gait is fully erect, the medial wall of the acetabulum is no longer needed and can disappear. It just doesn't do so immediately. Sometimes there are even reasons for getting it back; in Neornithes the acetabulum is partially closed, secondarily.

has appeared the first time in Scelidosaurus (a thyreophoran offspring leading to ornithopods) with a functional 4-dactyl pes.

And what has the number of toes got to do with how erect the stance is???

In fact, Heterodontosaurus and Lesothosaurus have "theropod foot" (mtt I distally attached on mtt II)

Wrong.

I am not surprise either that Marjanovic has no idea about Torvosaurus skull, so I send him one (there are better online). Naish again speaks generally but brings no specific characters so "very different in detail".

https://www.uen.org/utahlink/tours/admin/tour/17181/17181Torvosaurus2.j…

Exactly as I said: the shape of the maxilla, especially the antorbital fossa and fenestra, is all wrong for a rauisuchian and as expected for a theropod.

If you can't even see such features of general shape, it's no wonder you simply deny the existence of detail.

And if I actually make the effort of walking 6 steps to the JVP shelf to get a drawing of a Postosuchus skull (just a line drawing in lateral view -- Peyer et al. 2008 fig. 10), it turns out there are lots more differences. Postosuchus has a humongous quadratojugal that contacts the postorbital, cutting the lower temporal fenestra in two; no trace of that in Torvosaurus. Postosuchus has a rostrodorsal corner on the pmx, which houses the naris and gives the pmx a vertical, if not overhanging, rostral margin; in Torvosaurus, it's swept far back, so that the rostral margin of the naris is dorsal to the 4th, not the 1st, pmx tooth. The shape of the dentary is different, with Postosuchus interestingly having a rostral knob like a crocodile or spinosaur, which is missing in Torvosaurus. Postosuchus has a pmx-nasal contact caudal to the naris, and a tiny naris; Torvosaurus has a naris-maxilla contact, and a much larger naris. The size and shape of the lacrimal in Postosuchus is all wrong for a theropod, because its antorbital fenestra is so strongly reduced. Postosuchus has the postorbital sending a corner into the orbit, and Torvosaurus lacks that (other theropods like Allosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, and Majungasaurus have it, though). The surangular is all different, forming a very tall retroarticular process in Postosuchus, but not in Torvosaurus where the mandible tapers to a point caudally. And finally, Torvosaurus has extremely long upper teeth (like tyrannosaurid maxillary teeth), while Postosuchus has much shorter ones; Postosuchus has very small pmx teeth, somewhat reminiscent of tyrannosaurids; and the first few dentary teeth are drastically enlarged in Postosuchus but not in Torvosaurus.

And, mind you, that's just the skull! The neural spines of the neck vertebrae, the shoulder girdle, and the entire forelimbs are all drastically different between the two. More is not visible in the Torvosaurus photo, but you can trust me that the hindlimbs and the pelvis are quite different, tooâ¦

Really. You're making yourself utterly ridiculous. It's like showing me a human and a tree kangaroo and telling me nobody can tell the difference.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 07 May 2009 #permalink

Oh, and, a geezer is an old man whose brain and (I think) bladder don't quite work anymore. You are probably the oldest participant in this threadâ¦

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 07 May 2009 #permalink

I can't recall how many times the same point was given and yet he ignored/misinterpreted, leading to both Darren Naish and David Marjanovic to repeat the same things.

Plus, the evolutionary logic would be completly against what Peter blindly believes in; aetosaurs were basically like herbivorous crocodilians/large iguanas, with a plantigrade/slightly digitigrade feet, basically slow herbivores. Considering that early ornithicians were fast runners, and the limb stance was erect rather than sprawling/semi-sprawling, its difficult to imagine an aetosaur to produce such forms. Plus, we now know at least heterodontosaurs had feathers; that, plus all the skeletical details (including, obviously, the ankle, the hip joint, the shpe/size of the anteorbital fossa etc.), makes Ornithicia as a whole closer to other dinosaurs than to Crurotarsi.

But of course, PM will interpret some character in paleontological literature in the wrong way and/or say something that make absolutely no sense at all and he'll make himself a fool again. Really, we aren't wrong, he is just a microcephalian arrogant sauropsidophile who thinks facts established decades ago are a masquerade made by tyrannical scientists. Really, he should go to a church to work as a pedophile pastor and leave us alone

From Darren: I have had enough, and from hereon am going to delete any new 'Peter Mihalda' messages. If anyone thinks this is unfair, let me know. And if you want to see the message I've deleted, email me personally and I would be happy to send it to you. It's just more of the same however. This person offends me on many levels, and one can only tolerate stupidity and arrogance so far.

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 07 May 2009 #permalink

Deleted.

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 07 May 2009 #permalink

When are you going to post some of his racist emails, just to show what sort of person we are dealing with. The 'S.O.S. France' email was particularly good. One brief quote from the end:

"Note: I have to remind some jokers who would like to send this to some wrong places that for every venom there,s an antidotum. I,ll deny everything andshall claim some hacker had opened my email and sent it for me. Good luck".

Truly a wonderful human being.

By PhD in dinosaurs (not verified) on 07 May 2009 #permalink

Totally different question, here. What's Torvosaurus classified as? Looks like it could be a lot of different animals. I wasn't aware so much material existed to sculpt a mount. Looks like a tyrannosaurs, but the arms are more tetanuran.

I mean "kinds of theropods," of course. The last thing I'd call it is a rauisuchian. In fact, based on phylogenetic distance, you could more reasonably mistake Torvosaurus for a prosauropod than a rauisuchian. :-D

Torvosaurus is... a torvosaurid. ;-)

I hope you all agree in considering Torvosaurus a non-tyrannoraptoran non-allosauroid tetanuran THEROPOD DINOSAUR.

For the record, here's the rauisuchian Prestosuchus for comparison.

Looks very similar (though not identical) to Postosuchus... but also looks so heavily reconstructed that I wouldn't build arguments on it...

Looks like a tyrannosaurs, but the arms are more tetanuran.

What Andrea said; also, just to be clear, tyrannosaurs are tetanurans.

Beyond being a tetanuran, Torvosaurus hardly shares anything with tyrannosaurs other than the long teeth. A paper on basal tetanuran phylogeny is in press (...if I'm not having an embarrassing memory lapse and it has already come out... it was presented at several congresses last year).

When are you going to post some of his racist emails, just to show what sort of person we are dealing with.

A person who makes arguments from ignorance in all fields, not just archosaur phylogeny, and then defends them with astoundingly belligerent arrogance.

There's a word for it. Google "egnorance".

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 07 May 2009 #permalink

Darren:

from hereon am going to delete any new 'Peter Mihalda' messages. If anyone thinks this is unfair, let me know.

I, for one, don't think it's unfair. It's your blog after all, and you have the right to set the rules. Holding a minority opinion, however outlandish, is one thing. But showing an utter disregard for basic netiquette is really beyond the pale. At the end of the day, all of us who post here are only guests, and Peter Mihalda was being an exceptionally rude one (not to mention repetitive and increasingly boring). Good riddance to bad rubbish!

Bonjour, Tet Zoo!

Mr Jean-Paul Belmondo would like to point out that:

1) He does not wish in any way to be associated with the opinions expressed by the individual who has been posting under the name Peter Mihalda, and

2) His surname is not spelled "Bellmondo".

By Jean-Paul Belm… (not verified) on 07 May 2009 #permalink

DELETED

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 13 May 2009 #permalink

DELETED

By Peter Mihalda (not verified) on 18 May 2009 #permalink