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Mesozoic Birds of China (LONG)



Hi All -

        I just acquired the following, and thought y'all'd be interested:

Hou, L.  1996(?)  _Mesozoic Birds of China_.  Publisher unknown, 221 pp. 
ISBN 957-02-0484-2

The book is in Chinese with brief English descriptions of the birds
described within in the back; English translations of the forwards by Larry
Martin and Alan Feduccia are also provided.  The book contains numerous
color photos, all of quite good quality.  Why, oh why didn't I learn how to
read Chinese?!?  8-C

        This is the book in which it was rumored on this list a few months
ago that Dr. Hou splits the specimens of _Confuciusornis_ into 3 species,
but there are several species noted in the text.  Strangely, there are
different species listed in the Chinese text and in the English summaries. 
In both, we find _Confuciusornis sanctus_ as the type species of the genus.
 In the Chinese text, I can find:

_Confuciusornis chuonzhous_ and
_Confuciusornis suniae_

but the English list includes:

_Confuciusornis meidus_ (maybe a misspelling of medius?) and
_Confuciusornis shuzhi_

>From what I _can_ see, lining up specimen numbers amidst the Chinese text
with pictures, it looks like _C. chuonzhous_ is represented by an isolated
leg and foot, and _C. suniae_ by a gorgeously preserved complete and
articulated skeleton.  Although the species name differ, the English
summaries of _C. meidus_ and _C. shuzhi_ seem to match the photos mentioned
in the Chinese text (that is, the description of _C. meidus_ includes only
features of the leg), so I am assuming that Hou intended only to erect 3
species (not 5) and that, at some point along the line, he (or someone)
decided to change the species nomina, but the changes didn't get propigated
throughout the text.  By page priority, the first two listed species are
the accurate ones, but it'll be interesting to see which ones get used in
future literature...

        Anyway, _C. chuonzhous/meidus_ is differentiated from _C. sanctus_
by being relatively robust and large; tibia robust and thickened
anterior-posteriorly with feather impressions on both sides; distal end not
expanded; calcaneum and astragalus present but separate, fifth metatarsal
present and not fused to others; first pedal digit very small, with highly
recurved claw.  _C. suniae/shuzhi_ is differentiated by:  "V" shaped
depression at distal end of premaxilla; nasal process of premax long;
external naris long; frontal short; cervical verts wide with small
"concavitas lateralis" (=?pleurocoelous fossa?); neural spines narrow and
low; thoracic verts long and thin with deep grooves in "concavitas
lateralis;" transverse processes of last three lumbar verts combined; and
sacral neural spines fused (the actual text says "neural spine of ilium
combined.

        But wait, there's more!  8-D  _Cathayornis_ is also split into 2
species:  _Cathayornis yandica_ and _Cathayornis caudatusus_.  There are
also several new _genera_ of bird erected; again, there are discrepancies
between the Chinese text and the English summaries.  In the Chinese
portion, I find:

_Jibeinia luanhera_, based on a virtually complete skeleton lacking the
back of the skull and the proximal cervicals

_J. luanhera_ has no mention in the English section.  However, four new
genera appear in both the Chinese and English, including:

_Longchengornis sanyansis_, based on a partial, disarticulated skeleton
(impression only) lacking a skull;

_Cuspirostrisornis jinfengi_, based on a complete and largely articulated
skeleton and skull;

_Largirostornis sexdentoris_, based on another largely complete, partially
articulated skull and skeleton, and 

_Songlingornis linghensis_, based on a partial, disarticulated skeleton and
skull (impressions only).

Also discussed and photographed in the text are:  _Boluochia zhengi_,
_Otogornis genghisi_, _Liaoningornis longidigitus_, _Sinornis santensis_,
and _Chaoyangia beishanensis_, as well as numerous photos of various
_Confuciusornis_ specimens and several isolated feathers.  A map provided
at the front of the book pinpoints some of the birds' localities; from
this, I can see that there are feather localities in China outside Liaoning
province, and that _Jibeinia_ is from a locality one province west of
Lioaning (although the specimen's preservation and matrix are fairly
similar to some of the less-well preserved Liaoning specimens I've seen).

        Hou continues to be a proponent of a fundamental dichotomy in Aves
(Avialae) into the the Sauriurae and Ornithurae, as presented in a the
phylogenetic tree overlaying a geologic time scale of the Mesozoic in the
back, it appears that _Jibeinia_ is in beds of similar age to those of
Liaoning province (at any rate, Hou puts _Confuciusornis_ in the Late
Jurassic and puts _Jibeinia_ just below the J-K boundary).  He has one
large "polytomy" of birds, clearly a representation of Enantiornithes, in
the Early Cretaceous, including _Largirostrornis_, _Cuspirostrisornis_, and
_Longchengornis_ along with _Noguerornis_, _Concornis_, _Iberomesornis_,
_Cathayornis_, and _Sinornis_.  _Liaoningornis_ is a Late Jurassic
representative of the Ornithurae side of things; in the Early Cretaceous,
we see a "polytomy" of _Chaoyangia_, _Songlingornis_, and _Ambiortus_.

        I wonder if the new Jurassic Foundation would be willing to
contribute some money towards having this thing translated and republished
in English...?  I'd love to know more about what it says!  In the interim,
I thought listserver subscribers would like to know what's new in the world
of Mesozoic birds.


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Jerry D. Harris                         (505) 841-2865
Fossil Preparation Lab                
New Mexico Museum of Natural History        
1801 Mountain Rd NW                           
Albuquerque  NM  87104-1375             102354.2222@compuserve.com