A new ornithuromorph (Aves: Ornithothoraces) bird from the Jehol Group indicative of higher-level diversity

The Dinosaur Institute, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 90007, Los Angeles, California
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (Impact Factor: 2.08). 04/2010; 30:311-321. DOI: 10.1080/02724631003617498

ABSTRACT Basal Ornithuromorpha, until recently, was one of the most poorly documented segments of early avian evo-lution. The known species diversity of the ornithuromorph clade has increased rapidly with the addition of new discoveries from the Early Cretaceous deposits of northeastern China. Reported in this paper is the discovery of a new bird from the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation, Liaoning Province, China. The specimen represents a new species, Longicrusavis houi, but bears similarities to Hongshanornis longicresta from the same formation of Inner Mongolia. The two birds are compa-rable in size and share an unusual sigmoid mandible and elongate hindlimbs relative to their forelimbs. Together these taxa represent a clade (Hongshanornithidae, new taxon) of specialized 'shorebirds' whose elongate hindlimbs indicate ecological adaptations different from those of other Jehol ornithuromorphs. Phylogenetic relationships of Mesozoic birds are discussed based on the results of a comprehensive cladistic analysis. New morphological information on Ornithuromorpha is provided through the detailed description of the new taxon together with new information on Hongshanornis.

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    ABSTRACT: The discovery of Hongshanornis longicresta, a small ornithuromorph bird with unusually long hindlimb proportions, was followed by the discovery of two closely related species, Longicrusavis houi and Parahongshanornis chaoyangensis. Together forming the Hongshanornithidae, these species reveal important information about the early diversity and morphological specialization of ornithuromorphs, the clade that contains all living birds. Here we report on a new specimen (DNHM D2945/6) referable to Hongshanornis longicresta that contributes significant information to better understand the morphology, trophic ecology, and aerodynamics of this species, as well as the taxonomy of the Hongshanornithidae. Most notable are the well-preserved wings and feathered tail of DNHM D2945/6, which afford an accurate reconstruction of aerodynamic parameters indicating that as early as 125 million years ago, basal ornithuromorphs had evolved aerodynamic surfaces comparable in size and design to those of many modern birds, and flight modes alike to those of some small living birds.
    01/2014; 2:e234. DOI:10.7717/peerj.234
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    ABSTRACT: We report on a new species of basal ornithuromorph bird, Piscivoravis lii gen. et sp. nov., based on a well-preserved and nearly complete specimen from the Lower Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation in western Liaoning Province, northeastern China. The new specimen preserves several unique anatomical features previously unreported in Early Cretaceous ornithuromorphs, such as a robust furcula with strongly tapered omal tips, a broad sternum without craniocaudal elongation and large and strongly curved manual unguals. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that Piscivoravis is more derived than Archaeorynchus, but in a basal polytomy with Jianchangornis, Patagopteryx, and the clade including all more derived ornithuromorphs. The preserved wing and tail feathers provide new information on feather diversity and evolution in Early Cretaceous ornithuromorphs. The preservation of fish bones ventral to the dentary and in the stomach provides direct evidence that the new species was piscivorous – previously only reported in Yanornis, and as in some living birds, was capable of moving food bidirectionally through the alimentary canal.
    Historical Biology 09/2014; 26(5). DOI:10.1080/08912963.2013.819504 · 0.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A new specimen of Bohaiornis guoi from the Jiufotang Formation, comprising a nearly complete skeleton, sheds light on enantiornithine morphological variation and ecological specialization. The new specimen was collected from near Lamadong Village in Liaoning Province, which is the same area where the sub-adult holotype specimen was reported. It provides new information on the cranial and pectoral girdle anatomy of the species, e.g., broad nasal, strikingly robust acromion, medially curved acrocoracoid process. In contrast to the holotype, the newly referred specimen has small rounded stones in the thoracic region that in other extinct taxa has been interpreted as direct evidence of diet. Direct evidence of diet is so far unknown in other Enantiornithes. Specifically the lack of “stomach stones” or gastroliths in enantiornithines despite their excellent fossil record has been proposed to be related to their insectivorous diet as well as to their arboreal ecology. We hypothesize that cranial morphology as well as the number and shape of the preserved stones in Bohaiornis may be most consistent with a raptorial ecology previously unknown for Enantiornithes and considered rare for Avialae. While rostrum shape has a strong relationship to feeding ecology in living birds, in basal avialan birds most diversity is in dental morphology, number, and distribution of the teeth.
    Journal of Paleontology 01/2014; 88(1-1):99-108. DOI:10.1666/13-052 · 1.20 Impact Factor

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