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