Sunday, February 02, 2014

Australornis lovei, new Paleocene bird from New Zealand

First diagnosable non-sphenisciform bird from the early Paleocene of New Zealand. Mayr, RP Scofield, J. Royal Society of New Zealand

Abstract: A new avian taxon from the early Paleocene Waipara Greensand in Canterbury, New Zealand, is described. The holotype of Australornis lovei, gen. et sp. nov. includes wing and pectoral girdle bones, which exhibit distinctive morphologies. Notable features are a very long crista deltopectoralis, a craniocaudally flattened shaft, and a large tuberculum dorsale of the humerus, as well as a ridge-like caudal surface of the proximal ulna.

Although a well-founded assignment of the new species to any of the extant higher-level taxa is not possible, key morphological features of stem group Sphenisciformes (penguins) are absent in A. lovei. Other than penguins, the holotype of A. lovei represents one of the most significant records of a marine Paleocene bird from the Southern Hemisphere, and contributes to the emerging view that Neoaves were already diversified in the earliest Paleogene. link