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RE: Bibliography on Aepyornis



Evan Robinson wrote:

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

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.

Rasmussen et al. (2001) also suggest that, based on the relative size and proportions of the trochleae, _Eremopezus_'s toes might have been prehensile. Since _Eremopezus_ was presumably too big to perch in trees (!), this may indicate that its feet were used in predation. This lifestyle may also weigh against paleognathous/ratite affinities for _Eremopezus_.


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.

There are several lineages of large terrestrial secondary flightless non-ratites that existed in the Cenozoic (e.g., phorusrhacoids, gastornithids/diatrymids, dromornithids). _Eremopezus_ may represent yet another lineage. At the moment, there is no compelling evidence to suggest that _Eremopezus_ was a ratite.




Tim

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