The Analytic Atavar

Idiosyncratic Musings of a Retrograde Technophile

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Location: Chandler, Arizona, United States

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Give them a Metatarsal, and they'll build a Metadinosaur

Giant dinosaur raptor unveiled, Joe Bauman, Deseretnews.com, April 5, 2006.

What's 7 feet tall, 13 feet long, armed with sickle-like claws and covered with feathers? Hagryphus giganteus, the new raptor dinosaur discovered in southern Utah. ... The name means "giant four-footed, bird-like god of the western desert," said Lindsay Zanno, a graduate student at the U. who named it and is the lead author of a paper describing the animal. ... Only about 7 percent of the fossil was recovered, said Scott Sampson, the museum's chief curator. That consisted of hand and feet bones, including the impression of the sharp keratin sheath that was curved like a huge cat's claw. "We got the right 7 percent," said the field crew chief, Mike Getty, collections manager at the museum.
Last week we had word of the Tiktaalik fish, the latest supposed missing link between fishes and the earliest tetrapods, though it was really only another lobe-finned fish. It wasn't even a bipod -- it was missing a clavicle so the supposed front limb bones were not connected to the axial skeleton, and certainly not even close to being a tetrapod -- it had no pelvis nor any bones in the hind fins.
Now is announced a giant raptor reconstructed solely from a few of the hand and feet bones (see the article for the display of bones recovered). The reconstruction is truly marvelous: a 7 foot tall blue feathered creature with red head-comb that looks surprisingly like a giant deformed killer chicken with a strange tail. All this detail, except perhaps the hands and feet, is based on precisely nothing which was recovered. But we are assured that: "We know now that Hagryphus had feathers on its body." These paleontologists are truly remarkable.

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