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RE: Bibliography on Aepyornis

From: Marco Auditore <maaudito@tin.it>
Hi to all

I need the references for the papers (overall with osteology and anatomical description) of all species of Aepyornis, the "Elephant bird" of Madagascar, and of the possible aepyornithid Eremopezus, Mullerornis and Stromeria (and eventually other members of the family that I don't know)
There is someone that can help me?
Thanks in advance

A nice list of known Mullerornis and Aepyornis fossils and their references exists at:

Most papers that I know of look just at Aepyornis Maximus, the only completely known skeleton, and compare it to the other ratites. A good example is:

Cracraft, Carl. 1973. Phylogeny and Evolution of the Ratite Birds. IBIS 1974.
Which gives Aepyornis a good look.

Stromaria and Eremopezus are a bit more complicated. Stromaria, previously known from a tarsometarsus from the Oligocene of Egypt, and Eremopezus, a fragment, combined with Aepyornithoid eggshell, have been called elephantbirds. However, according to:

Rasmussen, D.T., E. L. Simons, F. Hertel and A. Judd, 2001. Hindlimb of a Giant Terrestrial Bird From The Upper Eocene, Fayum, Egypt. Palaeontology, Vol 44, Part 2, 2001, pp. 325-337

A new find of non-didactylous leg bones in Fayum, Egypt has revealed that the bones of both Stromeria and those of Eremopezus actually belong to the same bird, and that both are actually Late Eocene in age. They conclude that this bird, which they now dub Eremopezus eocaenus alone, may not even be a ratite. However, this conclusion appears to be based solely on their interpretation of how these fossil legs fit into their picture of a walking distribution of ratites. They, for example, do not consider the possibility that an Aepyornithoid may have swam to Madagascar in the Mid-Tertiary, which I find plausible.

While no extant African or Asia birds lay eggs of an Aepyornithoid pour pattern, the quantity of eggshell sites containing struthious bones (Mourer-Chauvire et al 1996), and both stuthious and aepyornithoid eggshells in both southern Africa and southern Asia is striking. It almost appears as if the Aepyornithoid eggshell became the Ostrich eggshell! Logically, a proto- (pre-didactylous: tri- or tetradactylous) flightless Ostrich ancestor must have been present in Asia as well as Africa. In order to have become didactylous, it must have done a lot of running. Therefore, although the Eremopezus fossils consist of insufficient material to be conclusive, save that they are legs of a large non-didactylous bird, they could yet someday prove to be closely related to elephantbirds.

What are you working on? If I knew, I may be able to recommend a few references. Even if a study of Aepyornis relationships, I would love to read or see anything that I have not. Perhaps Chip, a fellow Vorompatra enthusiast, or Paleontologist John Harshman may know of something.


Evan Robinson

P.S. I know, ratite fans, maybe Aepyornis? flew to Egypt and Madagascar in the form of a Lithorn. However, no Southern Hemisphere Lithorns, or late enough Tertiary Lithorns are yet known.

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