To bird or not to bird..

This was originally posted at: http://blogs.egu.eu/palaeoblog/?p=963

In 2012, the controversial case over whether or not Archaeopteryx lithographica, perhaps the most iconic dinosaur species of all time, was a bird was settled. Apparently. (free pdf) This was an important analysis for two reasons. Firstly, it countered a previous study showing that Archaeopteryx was more closely related to dinosaurs like Velociraptor and Deinonychus, and secondly used advanced, sort of non-traditional methods in palaeontology, called maximum likelihood and Bayesian analysis, to work out its relationships.

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How to destroy generations of childhood memories in an instant: Yutyrannus huali

Childhood memories of dinosaurs have received another shattering blow today. The latest culprit is Yutyrannus huali, a large basal tyrannosauroid from the lower Cretaceous of China, complete with elongate integumental filament structures, or ‘protofeathers’. The etymology is quite special, says lead author Xing Xu, translating into a blend of Mandarin and Latin as ‘beautiful feathered tyrant’. This species is the latest wonder to be exhumed from the fossil treasure trove known as the Yixian Formation, a series of volcanogenic and lacustrine deposits that are currently guiding and re-working our understanding of dinosaur evolution. Of course, being such prominent study, Nature saw fit to pop it behind a $32 paywall.

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A glitch in the [publishing] matrix?

Cretaceous Research is a journal published by the notorious for-profit publisher Elsevier (see articles on this blog). Tonight however, they have blessed us with a wealth of new research through their RSS feed (albeit, paywalled for the 99%), a lot including everyone’s favourite vertebrates, the dinosaurs. This is an inordinate amount of publications for K-Research (there were about 50 in total, and the same for Palaeo-3, also published through Lolsevier).

Could this be a glitch in the system? A way of attempting to appease those who most strongly oppose Elsevier’s business model? (Mike Taylor of SV-POW (amongst others) has been one of the strongest and most vocal opposers against Elsevier, and is a bona fide vertebrate palaeontologist [by day..]). A mystery indeed. Or, it could just be a chance to absorb some great palaeontology research!

Neo, the manifestation of Open Access

Either way, the latest published through Cretaceous Research includes: Alvarezsaurids and eggs from Patagonia, ceratopsids from Canada, marine reptiles from Chile, arthritis in birds, the world’s largest toothed pterosaur, another pterosaur from China, a Spanish sauropod, a new pliosaur from Utah, a new avian ichnotaxonanother Sauropod from Patagonia, a new ornithopod, and a tyrannosaurid from Uzbekistan! Wow. There’s more, including frogs, beetles, lizards, and rocks, but you can find them hanging around these bad boys.

Edit: Looking at the journals, it appears that what Elsevier have done is mistakenly allow access to both April and June’s editions through advanced online publication. Cheers!

Obviously *none* of these paywalled papers are available upon request.. (jon.tennant.2[at]gmail.com )