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Qianshanornis - the Paleocene bird with a hyperextendible second toe
Also from the latest JVP.... I only mention this paper because it
explicitly compares this bird with _Archaeopteryx_ and _Rahonavis_, on
account of the interpretation of a hyperextensible second toe.
Mayr, G., Yang, J., De Bast, E., Li, C._S., and Smith, T. (2013) A
_Strigogyps_-like bird from the middle Paleocene of China with an
unusual grasping foot. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 33:
"We describe a new avian species, _Qianshanornis rapax_, gen. et sp.
nov., from the middle Paleocene Wanghudun Formation of the Qianshan
Basin in Anhui Province, China. The holotype consists of an incomplete
articulated foot and a few associated bones, mainly of the leg, wing,
and pectoral girdle. _Qianshanornis rapax_ is characterized by a
derived foot morphology and may have had a hyperextendible second toe,
which has so far only been reported for some Mesozoic taxa. The new
species is markedly different from all other known Cenozoic birds and
is here classified in the new taxon Qianshanornithidae. The leg bones,
especially the distal end of the tibiotarsus, most closely resemble
those of _Strigogyps_ (Ameghinornithidae) from the Eocene, and
possibly Oligocene, of Europe, but unlike the latter, the much smaller
_Q. rapax_ appears to have had well-developed flight capabilities."
The title is a tad misleading. Although it states that
_Qianshanornis_ is "_Strigogyps_-like", Mayr &c are cool on the idea
that _Qianshanornis_ and _Strigogyps_ are closely related. To be
honest, I'm not sure where _Strigogyps_ (sole member of
Ameghinornithidae) sits in neornithean phylogeny - apart from being
"currently assigned to the Cariamae".
Mayr also re-iterates his view that another Paleocene bird from China,
_Qinornis_, is only questionably neornithean.