Rebuttal of McFeeters, Ryan and Cullen, 2018, ‘Positional variation in pedal unguals of North American ornithomimids (Dinosauria, Theropoda): A Response to Brownstein (2017)’

Chase Doran Brownstein

Abstract


The Arundel Clay of Maryland is among the only Early Cretaceous terrestrial units known from eastern North America. Research on some theropod dinosaur bones from this layer has indicated the presence of two ornithomimosaur taxa in the assemblage. However, a recent paper discussed issues with the definite assignment of any of these unguals to Ornithomimosauria and suggested that morphological differences originally interpreted to be indicative of the presence of two ornithomimosaurs could be explained by positional variation. Here, I show that substantial evidence persists for the presence of two ornithomimosaurs in the Arundel Clay assemblage, even considering the recent description of positional variation in ornithomimosaur pedal unguals. Furthermore, the argument against the confident assignment of these unguals to ornithomimosaurs is shown to be based on oversimplified comparisons that do not take into account the combination of features in the Arundel specimens that allow for their assignment to that clade. Although several small points made in the initial paper describing the Arundel specimens are incorrect or unsubstantiated, the differences between the Maryland unguals are outside the spectrum of positional variation and are indicative of the presence of two ornithomimosaurs in the Arundel Clay assemblage.


Keywords


Cretaceous; Ornithomimosauria; Dinosauria; Arundel Clay

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18435/vamp29340

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