Biogeographic and paleoenvironmental implications of a new woodpecker species (Aves, Picidae) from the early Pliocene of South Africa.

Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (Impact Factor: 2.08). 01/2012; 32(4):926-938. DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2012.664597

ABSTRACT A fragmentary coracoid as well as isolated ulnae, carpometacarpi, and tarsometatarsi from the Varswater Formation at Langebaanweg, South Africa (early Pliocene), can be assigned to a new genus and species of true woodpecker (Picidae, Picinae), Australopicus nelsonmandelai, gen. et sp. nov. The new taxon is the first documented pre-Pleistocene record of woodpeckers from the entire African continent and it is clearly distinct from the three extant lineages of Picinae that are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, i.e., Campethera-Geocolaptes, Dendropicos, and Dendrocopos obsoletus. Our phylogenetic analysis shows that the new taxon forms a clade with the extant woodpecker genera Celeus and Dryocopus, which do not occur in Africa, but in the Americas and Eurasia. The new taxon represents a previously unknown fourth lineage of African woodpeckers of Eurasian origin that probably became isolated on the African continent is a result of environmental changes during the Miocene. Evidence for an arboreal true woodpecker in the fossil record strongly supports previous hypotheses regarding the presence of riverine forests at Langebaanweg during the early Pliocene.

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    ABSTRACT: We describe a new genus and species of woodpecker (Piciformes: Picidae), Piculoides saulcetensis, from the early Miocene (MN1–MN2) of Saulcet, in the “Saint-Gérand-le-Puy” area, central France, which is the earliest definite record of the family. The new species is represented solely by the distal end of a tarsometatarsus, which bears nonetheless diagnostic features that allowed us to place Piculoides saulcetensis in a phylogenetic context. Our results show that the fossil from Saulcet is either a stem-group representative of piculets (Picumninae) and true woodpeckers (Picinae) or of true woodpeckers only. Piculoides saulcetensis is similar to a fragmentary tarsometatarsus of a picid from the late Oligocene of southern Germany, and we thus hypothesize a close relationship between the two. KeywordsPiciformes–Saulcet–Saint-Gérand-le-Puy– Piculoides –Fossil birds–Early Miocene
    Swiss Journal of Palaeontology. 01/2011; 130(2):307-314.
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    ABSTRACT: The subfamily Picumninae (piculets) includes 3 genera and 30 species of tiny and short-tailed woodpeckers with a pantropical distribution. Within the Picumninae, two cases of intercontinentally disrupted distributions at the genus level occur. The first one concerns the genus Sasia (one species in Africa and two in southeast Asia) while the second concerns Picumnus (one species in southeast Asia and 25 in South America). These disrupted distributions, as well as several morphological differences, have lead some authors to place the African representative of Sasia and the southeast Asian representative of Picumnus in their own monotypic genera (Verreauxia and Vivia, respectively). To address the taxonomic status and biogeographic history of the piculets, we sequenced 2676 bp of DNA from one mitochondrial (ND2) and two nuclear markers (myoglobin intron 2 and -fibrinogen intron 7). Monophyly of Picumninae could not be recovered with confidence, while monophyly of Sasia and Picumnus were always strongly supported. Molecular dating analyses revealed that the splits both between the African and Indo-Malayan Sasia and between the New World and Old World Picumnus occurred at ca 7.9 Myr BP. This time corresponds to the beginning of the formation of the northern Hemisphere ice sheets and the accompanying expansion of grasslands throughout the world. The spread of open areas in the northern parts of Eurasia and America prevented gene flow between tropical forest birds, such as the piculets, in Africa, southeast Asia and South America, respectively.
    Journal of Avian Biology 01/2006; 37(5):487-496. · 2.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Presented here is a record of a piciform bird from a late Oligocene fissure filling from Germany. This is the earliest known fossil record of a modern-type piciform bird and the only one from deposits earlier than Miocene. The specimen, an isolated tarsometatarsus, is similar in size and proportions to the tarsometatarsus of the recent Cardinal-Woodpecker ­(Dendropicos fuscescens, Picidae). However, owing to its fragmented state a reliable assignment to any of the recent piciform families is not possible.ZusammenfassungEin Nachweis eines Spechtvogels wird aus einer spätoligozänen Spaltenfüllung Deutschlands beschrieben. Es ist der bisher älteste Nachweis eines modernen Spechtvogels und der einzige aus vor-miozänen Ablagerungen. Das Exemplar, ein isolierter Tarsometatarsus, ähnelt in Größe und Proportionen dem Tarsometatarsus des rezenten Kardinalspechts (Dendropicos fuscescens, Picidae). Aufgrund seiner fragmentarischen Erhaltung ist jedoch keine zuverlässige Zuordnung zu einer der rezenten Familien spechtartiger Vögel möglich.
    Journal of Ornithology 12/2000; 142(1):2 - 6. · 1.63 Impact Factor


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