Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Theropod Furculae

Here is an important new paper by my friends and colleagues Sterling Nesbitt and Alan Turner. Where was this paper months back when we had a detailed discussion/disagreement on dinosaur furcula homology in my Age of the Dinosaurs class?

Nesbitt, S.J., Turner, A.H., Spaulding, M., Conrad, J.L., and M. A. Norell. 2009. The theropod furcula. Journal of Morphology early view. DOI: 10.1002/jmor.10724

ABSTRACT - The furcula is a structure formed by the midline fusion of the clavicles. This is the element which is unique to theropods and is important for understanding the link between birds and other theropods. New specimens from basal theropods suggest that the furcula appeared very early in theropod history. We review furcula development, function, and morphology, as well as the anatomical terminology applied to it. Furcular morphology is highly variable in crown-group avians but is rather conserved among nonavian theropods. Here we review, or describe for the first time, the furculae in many nonavian theropods. Furculae occur in nearly all major clades of theropods, as shown by new theropod specimens from the Early Cretaceous of China and a close inspection of previously collected specimens. Informative phylogenetic characters pertaining to the furcula occur throughout Theropoda, though care should be take to consider taphonomic effects when describing furcular morphology.


  1. *sigh*

    Any way you could drop it in my inbox, brother? I would appreciate it!

  2. An excellent paper, with the first published photo and description of a Falcarius furcula, a great photo of Jixiangornis' pectoral area, and the first photo of the postcrania of the Citipati holotype. Also some good new characters to add to analyses, and did anyone else notice NGMC 91 being called Sinornithosaurus by the AMNH team?


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