Updated Novermber 6, 2015 with a new reconstruction. M. Mortimer provided a necessary critique (see comments). I rushed this online yesterday without tracing gastralia, I thought the scapulae extended further beneath the skull, I misinterpreted several pectoral elements and the humeri. A second look brought these in closer accord with sister taxa.
Earlier we looked at three other Archaeopteryx specimens and noted that they nested at the bases of distinct clades, the Enantiornithes and the Euornithes. Here we’ll add the Solnhofen specimen of Archaeopteryx (aka Wellnhoferia, Elzanowski 2001, Fig. 1) and a few other taxa to the large reptile tree (601 taxa) to see where they nest.
Distinct from the other Archaeopteryx specimens,
Wellnhoferia has a shorter tail, a precursor structure to the very short tails of extant birds. This specimen (BSP 1999) nests at the base of the clade that includes Confuciusornis to extant birds (Fig. 2).
nesting as basal birds and other notes and issues raised here (Fig. 2) will be considered in later blogs.
Elzaznowski 2001 missed one pedal phalanx from his reconstruction (Fig. 3). The DGS method helped to recover it.
A while back
I wondered if the the several specimens assigned to Archaeopteryx were inappropriately lumped based only on the earlier observation that Solnhofen pterosaurs were likewise inappropriately lumped. This has proven to be true. For all the many genera and species discovered from the Solnhofen lagoons, there is more than one basal bird present. Those who have reconstructed the several specimens have not added them to phylogenetic analyses. Those who do phylogenetic analyses have not added several Archaeopteryx specimen to their studies. This is remedied, to a certain extent, here.
I once thought I could add nothing to basal bird studies
since so many workers have published on them. Once again, I am proven wrong. The differences between the specimens are shown to be phylogenetic, not ontogenetic.
Over the next few days
I will portray a few of these basal birds, perhaps with some new insight, as I did earlier with Yi qi, the inappropriately identified dragon wing bird.
Elzanowski A 2001. A new genus and species for the largest specimen of Archaeopteryx. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 46(4):519-532.