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Dasornis skull paper



See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080926143908.htm


A SKULL OF THE GIANT BONY-TOOTHED BIRD DASORNIS (AVES: PELAGORNITHIDAE) FROM
THE LOWER EOCENE OF THE ISLE OF SHEPPEY
GERALD MAYR
Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Sektion Ornithologie, Senckenberganlage 25,
D-60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany; e-mail: Gerald.Mayr@senckenberg.de
Copyright C The Palaeontological Association, 2008
KEYWORDS
Fossil birds . bony-toothed birds . Dasornis emuinus . taxonomy . evolution
. Eocene
ABSTRACT

Abstract: The first substantial skull of a very large Paleogene bony-toothed
bird (Pelagornithidae) is described from the Lower Eocene London Clay of the
Isle of Sheppey in England. The specimen is assigned to Dasornis emuinus
(Bowerbank), based on a taxonomic revision of the large London Clay
Pelagornithidae. Very large bony-toothed birds from the London Clay were
known previously from fragmentary remains of non-comparable skeletal
elements only, and Dasornis londinensis Owen, Argillornis emuinus
(Bowerbank), A. longipennis Owen, and Neptuniavis miranda Harrison and
Walker are considered junior synonyms of D. emuinus. The new specimen allows
a definitive assignment of Dasornis to the Pelagornithidae and documents
that this taxon closely resembles other bony-toothed birds in cranial
morphology. It is hypothesized that giant size (i.e. a wingspan above 4 m)
evolved only once within Pelagornithidae and that Dasornis emuinus is the
sister taxon of the giant Neogene bony-toothed birds, which share a derived
wing morphology.

Typescript received 17 July 2007; accepted in revised form 8 November 2007

Dino Guy Ralph
Docent at the California Academy of Sciences
Dinosaur and Fossil Education
Member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology