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New Elopteryx paper
I just received a pdf of a recent paper on Elopteryx that hasn't been
mentioned here before.
Kessler, Grigorescu and Csiki, 2005. Elopteryx revisited - a new bird-like
specimen from the Maastrichtian of the Hateg Basin. Acta Palaeontologica
Romaniae. 5, 249-258.
Abstract ? Putative bird remains were reported relatively early from the
Maastrichtian continental beds of the Hateg Basin. They were referred to as
Elopteryx nopcsai Andrews, 1913 based on material collected by Nopcsa
(femora, tibiotarsi), diagnosed as a large-size cormorant-like bird.
Subsequently, the tibiotarsi were redescribed as belonging to two new taxa
of large owls (Bradycneme draculae, Heptasteornis andrewsi).
More recently, several authors have contested the avian affinities of these
remains, considering them
as belonging to small non-avian theropods. The discovery of new bird-like
remains is therefore
remarkable, since they might potentially establish the presence of birds in
the Hateg ecosystem.
A distal right femur from the La Scoaba locality, Sinpetru, is reminiscent
in size and features of the
femora described initially by Andrews, showing some resemblances to
steganopod femora and
corresponding in size to large Recent pelicans. However, several
osteological details differentiate the
specimen from other fossil and Recent steganopodes, suggesting that it does
not, in fact, belong to a bird.
Several non-avian theropods have a distal femur reminiscent of the Sinpetru
specimen, showing an
ectocondylar crest and lacking a craniomedial crest. Among these,
alvarezsaurids most closely resemble the La Scoaba femur. The new specimen
is thus considered to belong to an alvarezsaurid, not to a steganopod bird;
it represents the second indication of the presence of this peculiar late
Cretaceous theropod clade in the Hateg Basin.
Kessler et al. (2005) describe a mononykine distal femur (FGGUB R.1957) as
Elopteryx based on bone texture, synonymizing Heptasteornis and Bradycneme
with the genus, and refer the taxon to Alvarezsauridae. I prefer to assign
the femur to the mononykine Heptasteornis, while keeping Elopteryx separate
as it differs from alvarezsaurids in some ways (posterior trochanter and
capital ligament fossa present).
Also interesting is that the supposed Elopteryx distal femur (FGGUB R.351)
described by Grigorescu and Kessler (1981), which was reidentified as a
ceratosaur by Csiki and Grigorescu (1998), was found to be a distal
Finally, I asked Csiki about the supposed Elopteryx skull apparently
mentioned in Jurcsak and Kessler (1986), which Ford said supported its
pelecaniform identity (http://dml.cmnh.org/1998Jul/msg00244.html). Turns
out it's the posterior sauropod skull described briefly and illustrated in
Weishampel et al. (1991)!