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New Gruiform from France

Mayr, G. in press. A chicken-sized crane precursor from the early Oligocene of
France. _Naturwissenschaften_ (Online first), DOI: 10.1007/s00114-005-0007-8


  The link is very long and will certainly need cutting and pasting for most of
you. There is supplementary information, at
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00114-005-0007-8, but since I am not a subscriber, I
do not have access to this.


  "A skeleton of a chicken-sized crane precursor is described from the Lower
Oligocene of the Lubéron in Southern France. Parvigrus pohli gen. et sp. nov.
is the most substantial Paleogene fossil record of the Grues (Aramidae
[limpkin] + Gruidae [cranes]), and among its oldest representatives. The fossil
species is classified in the new taxon Parvigruidae, which is shown to be the
sister group of extant Grues. It is the first fossil record of a stem lineage
representative of the Grues and, among others, differs from modern Grues in its
smaller size, shorter beak, and rail-like limb proportions. Size increase in
the stem lineage of the Gruidae may be related to the spread of grasslands
during the Oligocene and Miocene. Occurrence of stem lineage Grues in the Lower
Oligocene of Europe is in concordance with the fact that there is no evidence
for the presence of crown group members of modern avian ?families? in
pre-Oligocene fossil deposits."

  I have problems with Mayr's monotypic "families", whose age appears to be the
criterion for the novelty of containign taxonomic groups. As someone pointed
out to me earlier, "EVERY FOSSIL BIRD NEEDS ITS OWN FAMILY [...] unless it's
from the Mesozoic, in which case IT NEEDS ITS OWN ORDER." (emphasis in

  Because _Naturwissenschaften_ considers its online publications valid
taxonomically and for the purposes of priority, the name *Parvigrus pohli*
should be available for use (otherwise I wouldn't mention it).


Jaime A. Headden

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)

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