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Archaeornithura, new ornithuromorph bird from Early Cretaceous of China (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper in open access:

Min Wang, Xiaoting Zheng, Jingmai K. O’Connor, Graeme T. Lloyd, Xiaoli
Wang, Yan Wang, Xiaomei Zhang & Zhonghe Zhou (2015)
The oldest record of ornithuromorpha from the early cretaceous of China.
Nature Communications 6 : 6987

Ornithuromorpha is the most inclusive clade containing extant birds
but not the Mesozoic Enantiornithes. The early evolutionary history of
this avian clade has been advanced with recent discoveries from
Cretaceous deposits, indicating that Ornithuromorpha and
Enantiornithes are the two major avian groups in Mesozoic. Here we
report on a new ornithuromorph bird, Archaeornithura meemannae gen. et
sp. nov., from the second oldest avian-bearing deposits (130.7 Ma) in
the world. The new taxon is referable to the Hongshanornithidae and
constitutes the oldest record of the Ornithuromorpha. However, A.
meemannae shows few primitive features relative to younger
hongshanornithids and is deeply nested within the Hongshanornithidae,
suggesting that this clade is already well established. The new
discovery extends the record of Ornithuromorpha by five to six million
years, which in turn pushes back the divergence times of early avian
lingeages into the Early Cretaceous.