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Reinterpretation of a previously described Jehol bird clarifies early trophic evolution in the Ornithuromorpha.

Authors
  • Zheng, Xiaoting1, 2
  • O'Connor, Jingmai K3
  • Wang, Xiaoli1, 2
  • Wang, Yan1, 2
  • Zhou, Zhonghe4
  • 1 Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Linyi University, Linyi, Shandong 276000, People's Republic of China. , (China)
  • 2 Tianyu Natural History Museum of Shandong, Pingyi, Shandong 273300, People's Republic of China. , (China)
  • 3 Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044, People's Republic of China [email protected] , (China)
  • 4 Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044, People's Republic of China. , (China)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Proceedings of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences
Publisher
The Royal Society
Publication Date
Jan 31, 2018
Volume
285
Issue
1871
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2494
PMID: 29386367
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

STM35-3 from the Yixian Formation is the only Early Cretaceous ornithuromorph preserving direct evidence of granivory. The crop contains numerous seeds and the preservation of gastroliths presumably within the ventriculus indicates this diet was paired with the presence of a gastric mill as in living granivorous birds. STM35-3 was originally referred to Hongshanornis longicresta, member of a diverse clade of small, basal ornithuromorphs with elongate hindlimbs known as the Hongshanornithidae. Hindlimb proportions suggest that hongshanornithids were wading birds, an ecological inference somewhat in conflict with direct evidence suggesting Hongshanornis fed on seeds. However, close inspection of STM35-3 reveals that the specimen represents a new species not closely related to hongshanornithids, distinguished by large forelimbs that exceed the length of the hindlimbs, robust and narrow coracoids, and a delicate edentulous rostrum. By contrast, all hongshanornithids have hindlimbs that far exceed the length of the forelimbs, coracoids with wide sternal margins, and small teeth throughout the upper and lower jaws. Reinterpretation of this new taxon, Eogranivora edentulata gen. et sp. nov, helps to clarify trophic driven patterns of tooth loss within the Ornithuromorpha. Apparent loss of the hallux may represent the first such occurrence in a Mesozoic bird and suggests a highly terrestrial lifestyle.

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