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STL Science Center
12 June 2012
Ancient Papers and Ancient Birds
Courtesy University of Kansas
Not all of the papers are ancient, but there are quite a few older papers out there for review and even some newer ones as well. Hesperornis has been studied for a little over 150 years now, and that leads to quite a few scholarly papers. The fact that we can get our hands on some of the older ones is fantastic given that older papers do not always survive or are not scanned or rewritten and hosted online somewhere. I suppose, given that, that we will work from the oldest to the newest. The oldest paper was written in 1896 but has since been transcribed and hosted online. The topic of the paper is the dermal covering of Hesperornis as preserved in a fossil which was found in Western Kansas in 1895. It's a short article and there is a reproduction plate of the fossil found so that the reader can view the fossil. The second paper, of 1915, discusses a paper which describes a Hesperornis fossil found in Montana and then presents the paper. 1952, the year we discuss the teeth of Hesperornis. This paper I read when I lost power last night and went to a friend's house. It's interesting in that it compares Hesperornis and another toothed bird, Icthyornis, to Mososaurs. It's quite odd and, while it argues convergent evolution for Hesperornis and some species of Mosasaur based on the way the teeth fit into the jaw and the way the jaw sits at rest, it argues that Icthyornis was actually related to Mososaurs. It goes on to say that the head of Icthyornis probably isn't the right head, which is strange, but not unheard of in the early days of paleontology. The two newest papers came from the labs of Larry Martin, and others, in which he and colleagues first, in 1980, examined the teeth and tarsus structure of Hesperornis and then in 1988 when they examined cranial kinesis of Hesperornis. The 1988 paper, which was also coauthored by Larry Witmer, is a stub of the paper, so you can't get too in depth with it without a JSTOR account, but it's an interesting topic to glance over.