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Parapengornis eurycaudatus, new enantiornithine bird species from Lower Cretaceous of China



Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com


New in PLoS ONE:


Han Hu , Jingmai K. O’Connor & Zhonghe Zhou (2015)
A New Species of Pengornithidae (Aves: Enantiornithes) from the Lower
Cretaceous of China Suggests a Specialized Scansorial Habitat
Previously Unknown in Early Birds.
PLoS ONE 10(6): e0126791.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126791
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0126791

We describe a new enantiornithine bird, Parapengornis eurycaudatus
gen. et sp. nov. from the Lower Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation of
Liaoning, China. Although morphologically similar to previously
described pengornithids Pengornis houi, Pengornis IVPP V18632, and
Eopengornis martini, morphological differences indicate it represents
a new taxon of the Pengornithidae. Based on new information from this
specimen we reassign IVPP V18632 to Parapengornis sp. The well
preserved pygostyle of the new specimen elucidates the morphology of
this element for the clade, which is unique in pengornithids among
Mesozoic birds. Similarities with modern scansores such as woodpeckers
may indicate a specialized vertical climbing and clinging behavior
that has not previously been inferred for early birds. The new
specimen preserves a pair of fully pennaceous rachis-dominated
feathers like those in the holotype of Eopengornis martini; together
with the unique morphology of the pygostyle, this discovery lends
evidence to early hypotheses that rachis-dominated feathers may have
had a functional significance. This discovery adds to the diversity of
ecological niches occupied by enantiornithines and if correct reveals
are remarkable amount of locomotive differentiation among
Enantiornithes.