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Chinese Boid Watching...

Hi All -

        Jeez, if they keep naming new birds at this rate, they'll catch up
with the non-avian dinosaurs!  ;-D

        Haven't read these in full yet, but here's some things I note
scanning through them:

Hou, L., Martin, L.D., Zhou, Z., and Feduccia, A.  1999.  _Archaeopteryx_
to opposite birds -- missing link from the Mesozoic of China.  _Vertebrata
PalAsiatica_ 37(2):  88-95. 

Describes the basal enantiornithine _Eoenantiornis buhleri_ from the Yixian
(they also have it in its own eponymous order and family).  Described as
situated phylogenetically between _Archaeopteryx_ and _Cathayornis_.  It's
a tiny little thing (I suspect it's a juvenile as the orbit on the skull is
_huge_, at least in their reconstruction -- the actual fossil's skull is
smashed), with a cute little sternum with just a suggestion of the
pronounced ventral processes seen in later enantiornithines (also maybe an
ontogenetic thing).  Fairly long neck, longer than _Confuciusornis_, two
manual claws.  Noteworthy is the reported preservation of an alula feather
on the wing, as in _Eoalulavis_.  Pedal claws are reportedly not as
recurved as in other enantiornithines.

Hou, L. and Chen, P.  1999.  _Liaoxiornis delicatus_ gen. et sp. nov., the
smallest Mesozoic bird.  _Chinese Science Bulletin_ 44(9):  834-838.

        Another tiny enantiornithine, named as above (not being proficient
in Chinese, I suspect it's pronounced "Lee-ah-oh-chi-orn-iss," but correct
me if I'm wrong!)  Based on the scale bar in the figure and a quick
guesstimate using my fingers, the thing is around 6 cm long!  The pectoral
girdle seems more or less intact (the furcula and coracoids are in place
and together); there's a very tiny sternum a bit further down, which is
described as "ginkgo-leaf-shaped" (I can kind of see that...)  The
pygostyle is very, very long, longer than anything I've seen in any bird
which has that feature.  The authors note that this specimen, despite the
small size and the enormous orbit, is not a juvenile because of the
advanced developmental state of the skull and postcrania.

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                     Jerry D. Harris
                 Fossil Preparation Lab
          New Mexico Museum of Natural History
                   1801 Mountain Rd NW
               Albuquerque  NM  87104-1375
                 Phone:  (505) 841-2809
                  Fax:  (505) 841-2866