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PROTOAVIS

a dubious bird-like theropod dinosaur from the Late Triassic of North America.
Pronunciation: PROH-to-AY-vis
Meaning: First bird
Author/s: Chatterjee (1984)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Texas, USA
Chart Position: 294

Protoavis texensis

The problem with Protoavis, and it's quite a big one, is that its Triassic-aged bones don't seem to belong to a single critter or even a single species. A jumbled mess containing what appear to be the remains of coelurosaurs, drepanosaurids, and various relatives of Coelophysis prompt cries of "chimera!" from almost all paleontologists. Apart, that is, from Sankar Chatterjee, who refers to Protoavis as "the first bird" and champions its importance in understanding the origin and evolution of our feathered friends.

We can't help feeling that old Sankar is a little biased. It's his discovery, after all. But even Sterling Nesbitt, who is renowned for cleaning up messy taxa, would only commit to "non-tetanuran theropod in part" in his critical re-evaluation of Triassic dinosaurs and point-blank refused to discuss some of its remains pending a thorough review. Presumably, he doesn't fancy this job himself, which tells its own story.
First bird from TexasEtymology
Protoavis is derived from Greek protos, "first" and the Latin avis, "bird".
The species epithet, texensis, means "from Texas" in Latin.
Discovery
The first remains which were assigned to Protoavis were discovered at the Bull Canyon Formation, Post, Texas by Sankar Chaterjee in 1984.
The holotype (TTUP 9200) is a partial skull and bits of skeleton. Remains have been assigned here from the Tecovas - a Texas formation that has also yielded fossils of Chindesaurus and Tecovasaurus.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Triassic
Stage: Rhaetian
Age range: 209-201 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: ?
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: ?
Diet: Omnivore
Family Tree:
?Dinosauria
?Saurischia
?Theropoda
Protoavis
texensis
References
• Sterling J. Nesbitt, Randall B. Irmis, William G. Parker (2007) "A critical re-evaluation of the Late Triassic dinosaur taxa of North America".
• L.M. Chiappe, M.A. Norell and J.M. Clark (2002) "The Cretaceous short-armed Alvarezsauridae. Mononykus and its kin" in "Mesozoic Birds: Above the Heads of Dinosaurs".
• Paul, G.S. (2002) "Dinosaurs of the Air: The Evolution and Loss of Flight in Dinosaurs and Birds".
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "PROTOAVIS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 21st Aug 2017.
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