Anchiornis & Microraptor

As noted on here before, an increasing number of dinosaur species from China are known from multiple good specimens, but have yet to enter the literature. When there is a mountain of new species to describe, new material of well (and not so well) established taxa tends to fall to the bottom of the to-do list.

It was then pleasing to see a new specimen each of Microraptor (above) and Anchiornis (well, the two were labelled as such) on display at the Dino Expo. Both species are apparently very well represented in collections but only when they start being described and catalogued and their identities confirmed can we start to work on major areas of their biology that are limited to taxa with large pools of specimens – sexual dimorphism, ontogeny, intraspecific variation. Still, at least I have some photos….

8 Responses to “Anchiornis & Microraptor”

  1. 1 Tom 15/08/2011 at 10:27 pm

    Beautiful feather impressions on that Anchiornis.

  2. 3 Anonymous 16/08/2011 at 5:00 am

    You know, with Anchiornis there is one kind of thing that can be done with multiple specimens that simply cannot be done with most other known species of dinosaurs…analysing feather coloration and patterns in a large sample. With this many Anchiornis specimens, it would be possible to see if this animal varied in patterning based on gender or along juvenile/adult lines.

  3. 4 David Hone 16/08/2011 at 8:28 am

    Assuming you can work out that they are different genders. As I have noted beofre there could be cryptic species, chronospecies, regional variations / colour morphs, and seasonal plumage as *well* as any possible male v femalke and juv v adult pattern differences.

  4. 5 Anonymous 16/08/2011 at 5:33 pm

    You could do that to. I only mentioned gender morphs and color changes in ontogeny because those were the first that came to mind. But those are all good ideas.

    Still, as you noted, it would be difficult to determine if these differences represent different species in the same genus, regional differences, or chronospecies. Though I suppose detailied stratigraphy could determine if any differences are due to microevcolution over time.

    • 6 David Hone 16/08/2011 at 5:41 pm

      Well yes but as you porbably know that’s one thing we really don’t have for the vast majority of these specimens. Even finding out which general area they came from can be impossible, let alone which horizon of which quarry….

  5. 7 Ceph 17/08/2011 at 8:30 pm

    That Anchiornis looks awfully familiar. Is it the counter slab to the specimen used in the Li et al (2010) colour reconstruction?

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