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Re: Island-dwelling dinosaurs (was Re: Gargantuavis neck vertebra)

Andreas Johansson <andreasj@gmail.com> wrote:

> Is it a crown rhea? If not, oughtn't the ratite paraphyly idea suggest
> we shouldn't assume it flightless just because it's on the rhea
> lineage?

Although only two-thirds the size of the modern _Rhea americana_, the
osteology of _Diogenornis fragilis_ is apparently consistent with
flightlessness.  I say "apparently" because I haven't seen Alvarenga's
original description of _Diogenornis_.  Gerald Mayr, in _Paleogene
Fossil Birds_, explicitly refers to _Diogenornis_ as flightless in his
discussion of the skeletal material, including limb bones.

_Diogenornis_ is not a crown rhea.  It may not even be a stem rhea.
According to a 2010 abstract by Alvarenga, _Diogenornis_ is actually
more closely related to the Casuariidae than to the Rheidae: