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Re: Pelagornithidae question

The ratite hypothesis was due to Rothe:

Rothe, P. 1964. Fossile Strausseneier auf Lanzarote. Natur und Museum 94:175-187.
Sauer, E. G. F. & Rothe, P. 1972. Ratite Eggshells from Lanzarote, Canary Islands. Science 176(4030):43-45.
Rothe, P. 1974. Canary Islands: Origin and Evolution. Naturwissenschaften 61:526-533.

and the pelagornithid hypothesis was as far as I know originally suggested by Garcia-Talavera:

Garcia-Talavera, F. 1990. Aves gigantes en el Mioceno de Famara (Lanzarote). Revista de la Academia Canaria de la Ciencia 2:71-79.

who found several complete eggs. He pointed out that the shape was different from ratite eggs and suggested odontoperygiform affinities, probably mostly because of the large size of the eggs. It is certainly a reasonable hypothesis since pelagornithids have been found in deposits of similar age (Pliocene) in Morocco. The age of the eggs is often stated as Miocene, but is more likely early Pliocene. The Moroccan avifaunas also indicate that the pliocene seabird avifauna was a rich one with i. a. Pinguinus, suggesting that the uppwelling system in the area has a long history.

However the Eastern Canaries are very old (25 Ma) and was a single island for most of the time, so there was certainly plenty of time and opportunity for giant flightless birds to evolve. No bones have been found as far as I know. Ratites seem unlikely however since the Eastern Canaries have apparently never been connected to the mainland and it seems unlikely that flighted paleognaths existed in Africa as late as the Miocene.

Tommy Tyrberg

At 20:41 2007-05-20, evelyn sobielski wrote:
This is somewhat obscure, but maybe Tommy Tyrberg can
help me...

There have been supposed "ratite" eggshell fragments
of ?Late Paleogene? age found on the E Canary Islands
(DOI: 10.1126/science.176.4030.43). I came across some
note on a Web page (Ameghiniana article I think it
was) recently that claimed these remains are probably
rather Pelagornithidae. Any refs?



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