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Zhongonris: new medium-stumped tailed bird



Don't think this one has been mentioned yet:

CHUNLING GAO, LUIS M. CHIAPPE, QINJING MENG,  JINGMAI K. O'CONNOR, XURI
WANG, XIAODONG  CHENG and JINYUAN  LIU. 2008. A NEW BASAL LINEAGE OF EARLY
CRETACEOUS BIRDS FROM CHINA AND ITS IMPLICATIONS ON THE EVOLUTION OF THE
AVIAN TAIL. Palaeontology 51: 775-791. 10.1111/j.1475-4983.2008.00793.x 

Abstract: We report on a new Early Cretaceous bird from China that sheds
significant light on the evolutionary transition between primitive birds
with a long bony tail and those with a short tail ending in a pygostyle. A
cladistic analysis of basal birds supports the placement of the new fossil
as the sister-taxon of all pygostylians. Possessing a unique hand morphology
with a phalangeal formula of 2-3-3-x-x and a reduced number of caudal
vertebrae lacking a pygostyle, the new specimen reveals anatomical
information previously unknown and increases the taxonomic diversity of
primitive, non-pygostylian birds. We infer from the specimen that during the
evolution of the avian tail, a decrease in relative caudal length and number
of vertebrae preceded the distal fusion of caudals into a pygostyle.

Zhongornis haoae is from the Dawangzhangzi Bed, upper Yixian Fm., near
Lingyuan City. It is a youngster (possible fledged, based on feather
impressions), with axial skeleton only about 8 cm long.

Other papers in this issue that I'll post about shortly (unless someone
beats me to them...)

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Email: tholtz@umd.edu   Phone: 301-405-4084
Office: Centreville 1216                        
Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Dept. of Geology, University of Maryland
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/
Fax: 301-314-9661               

Faculty Director, Earth, Life & Time Program, College Park Scholars
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite/
Fax: 301-405-0796

Mailing Address:        Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                        Department of Geology
                        Building 237, Room 1117
                        University of Maryland
                        College Park, MD 20742 USA