Abstract

A new avian species, Perplexicervix microcephalon n.gen. and n.sp., is described from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany. It is most unusual in that the cervical vertebrae of five of the six known specimens bear numerous bony tubercles. Such tubercles were also reported from another avian fossil from the Messel deposits, which is a representative of the extinct taxon Idiornithidae. Although the osteology of P. microcephalon is not known well enough for a reliable phylogenetic assignment, the new species clearly does not belong to the Idiornithidae. Compared to extant birds, it agrees with Anhimidae and Cathartidae in some osteological features. The origin of the vertebral tubercles remains mysterious. The fact that these structures are now known from two unrelated avian taxa supports previous assumptions, that they represent a pathologic condition. Not in line with this assumption, however, is their occurrence in all specimens referred to P. microcephalon, in which cervical vertebrae are preserved.

 
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Bibliographic Data

Short Form
Mayr, 2010, Rec. Aust. Mus. 62(1): 21–28
Author
Gerald Mayr
Year
2010
Title
A new avian species with tubercle-bearing cervical vertebrae from the Middle Eocene of Messel (Germany). In Proceedings of the VII International Meeting of the Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution, ed. W.E. Boles and T.H. Worthy
Serial Title
Records of the Australian Museum
Volume
62
Issue
1
Start Page
21
End Page
28
DOI
10.3853/j.0067-1975.62.2010.1537
Language
English
Date Published
26 May 2010
Cover Date
26 May 2010
ISSN
0067-1975
CODEN
RAUMAJ
Publisher
The Australian Museum
Place Published
Sydney, Australia
Subjects
AVES; PALAEONTOLOGY; OSTEOLOGY; EOCENE, MIDDLE
Reference Number
1537
EndNote
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