13 November 2012
Hans-Dieter Sues is a prolific writer; no one can really argue with that. I think we feature some paper he has at least co-authored on a fairly regular basis each week here. This week, though, he has teamed up with Peter Makovicky to discuss anatomy and phylogenetic relationships of Microvenator. Granted this is a little older, 1998 when Makovicky was still a graduate student, it still does quite a bit for our understanding of how and where Microvenator fits into the family of Oviraptorids as well as geologically where it fits into the timeline of life compared to other dinosaurs. Makovicky and Sues provide an in depth look at the reexamined Microvenator and come to the conclusion that Microvenator has even more in common with the Oviraptorids than Ostrom thought. They do caution, however, that a whopping 47% of characters are unknown for Microvenator at the time of their study, and probably still close to that today, and as such there is a great deal of movement of the animal in phylogenetic groupings possible. Mark Wilkinson addressed, in 1995, three years earlier, the missing characters in a wider reaching article on how to rely on results even with large amounts of missing characters. A small number of characters for Microvenator were presented in a table within the article and the overall message of the article is obviously important for other dinosaurs as well that are missing larger proportions of their identifying taxonomic characters. Sadly, to this point, I have not taken any systematics classes and so some of these things are clearly, at the moment, lost on me, but I hope to remedy that soon.