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"Terror birds" (Phorusrhacidae) from the Eocene of Europe imply trans-Tethys dispersal.

Angst D, Buffetaut E, Lécuyer C, Amiot R - PLoS ONE (2013)

Bottom Line: The occurrence of a phorusrhacid in the late Lutetian of Europe indicates that these flightless birds had a wider geographical distribution than previously recognized.The likeliest interpretation is that they dispersed from Africa, where the group is known in the Eocene, which implies crossing the Tethys Sea.The Early Tertiary distribution of phorusrhacids can be best explained by transoceanic dispersal, across both the South Atlantic and the Tethys.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon : Terre, Planètes, Environnement UMR CNRS/Univ. Lyon 1/ENS-Lyon 5276 Département des Sciences de la Terre Faculté des Sciences, Université Lyon 1 Campus de la Doua, Villeurbanne, France.

ABSTRACT

Background: Phorusrhacidae was a clade including middle-sized to giant terrestrial carnivorous birds, known mainly from the Cenozoic of South America, but also occurring in the Plio-Pleistocene of North America and the Eocene of Africa. Previous reports of small phorusrhacids in the Paleogene of Europe have been dismissed as based on non-phorusrhacid material.

Methodology: we have re-examined specimens of large terrestrial birds from the Eocene (late Lutetian) of France and Switzerland previously referred to gastornithids and ratites and have identified them as belonging to a phorusrhacid for which the name Eleutherornis cotei should be used.

Conclusions/significance: The occurrence of a phorusrhacid in the late Lutetian of Europe indicates that these flightless birds had a wider geographical distribution than previously recognized. The likeliest interpretation is that they dispersed from Africa, where the group is known in the Eocene, which implies crossing the Tethys Sea. The Early Tertiary distribution of phorusrhacids can be best explained by transoceanic dispersal, across both the South Atlantic and the Tethys.

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Comparison of the distal end of the tarsometatarsus in Gastornis parisiensis, Eleutherornis cotei and Psilopterus colzecus.A) cranial view, B) caudal view, C) distal view. For. Vasc. Dist.: foramen vasculare distale, Inc. Inter. Lat.: Incisura intertrochlearis lateralis. Scale bars: 1 cm.
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pone-0080357-g004: Comparison of the distal end of the tarsometatarsus in Gastornis parisiensis, Eleutherornis cotei and Psilopterus colzecus.A) cranial view, B) caudal view, C) distal view. For. Vasc. Dist.: foramen vasculare distale, Inc. Inter. Lat.: Incisura intertrochlearis lateralis. Scale bars: 1 cm.

Mentions: The material from Lissieu was described in detail [13], [14] as Diatryma? cotei (Fig. 2). It was later considered as a genus incertae sedis[17]. From Egerkingen, phalanges were described first, as Avis incertae sedis[15]; the taxon Eleutherornis helveticus was later erected on the basis of pelvic remains (Fig. 3), which were considered as belonging to a ratite [16]. Possible phorusrhacid affinities have been suggested but not supported [17]. The specimens from Lissieu show no real similarities with “Diatryma” (a junior synonym of Gastornis[18]) or with gastornithids in general, as already noted by Andors [19]. Besides being considerably smaller than Gastornis specimens, the tarsometatarsus from Lissieu clearly differs from that genus in its foramen vasculare distale, which bifurcates into two channels completely enclosed in bone, one of which opens on the caudal surface of the bone, while the other one opens at the bottom of the incisura intertrochlearis lateralis (Fig. 4). In gastornithids, a single bone-enclosed channel issues from the foramen, opening on the caudal face of the bone, and an open groove connects the foramen to the incisura. The claw-like, hooked ungual phalanges from Lissieu, with a strong proximally directed flexor tubercle, are unlike the rather hoof-shaped ungual phalanges of Gastornis[19] (Fig. 5).


"Terror birds" (Phorusrhacidae) from the Eocene of Europe imply trans-Tethys dispersal.

Angst D, Buffetaut E, Lécuyer C, Amiot R - PLoS ONE (2013)

Comparison of the distal end of the tarsometatarsus in Gastornis parisiensis, Eleutherornis cotei and Psilopterus colzecus.A) cranial view, B) caudal view, C) distal view. For. Vasc. Dist.: foramen vasculare distale, Inc. Inter. Lat.: Incisura intertrochlearis lateralis. Scale bars: 1 cm.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3842325&req=5

pone-0080357-g004: Comparison of the distal end of the tarsometatarsus in Gastornis parisiensis, Eleutherornis cotei and Psilopterus colzecus.A) cranial view, B) caudal view, C) distal view. For. Vasc. Dist.: foramen vasculare distale, Inc. Inter. Lat.: Incisura intertrochlearis lateralis. Scale bars: 1 cm.
Mentions: The material from Lissieu was described in detail [13], [14] as Diatryma? cotei (Fig. 2). It was later considered as a genus incertae sedis[17]. From Egerkingen, phalanges were described first, as Avis incertae sedis[15]; the taxon Eleutherornis helveticus was later erected on the basis of pelvic remains (Fig. 3), which were considered as belonging to a ratite [16]. Possible phorusrhacid affinities have been suggested but not supported [17]. The specimens from Lissieu show no real similarities with “Diatryma” (a junior synonym of Gastornis[18]) or with gastornithids in general, as already noted by Andors [19]. Besides being considerably smaller than Gastornis specimens, the tarsometatarsus from Lissieu clearly differs from that genus in its foramen vasculare distale, which bifurcates into two channels completely enclosed in bone, one of which opens on the caudal surface of the bone, while the other one opens at the bottom of the incisura intertrochlearis lateralis (Fig. 4). In gastornithids, a single bone-enclosed channel issues from the foramen, opening on the caudal face of the bone, and an open groove connects the foramen to the incisura. The claw-like, hooked ungual phalanges from Lissieu, with a strong proximally directed flexor tubercle, are unlike the rather hoof-shaped ungual phalanges of Gastornis[19] (Fig. 5).

Bottom Line: The occurrence of a phorusrhacid in the late Lutetian of Europe indicates that these flightless birds had a wider geographical distribution than previously recognized.The likeliest interpretation is that they dispersed from Africa, where the group is known in the Eocene, which implies crossing the Tethys Sea.The Early Tertiary distribution of phorusrhacids can be best explained by transoceanic dispersal, across both the South Atlantic and the Tethys.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon : Terre, Planètes, Environnement UMR CNRS/Univ. Lyon 1/ENS-Lyon 5276 Département des Sciences de la Terre Faculté des Sciences, Université Lyon 1 Campus de la Doua, Villeurbanne, France.

ABSTRACT

Background: Phorusrhacidae was a clade including middle-sized to giant terrestrial carnivorous birds, known mainly from the Cenozoic of South America, but also occurring in the Plio-Pleistocene of North America and the Eocene of Africa. Previous reports of small phorusrhacids in the Paleogene of Europe have been dismissed as based on non-phorusrhacid material.

Methodology: we have re-examined specimens of large terrestrial birds from the Eocene (late Lutetian) of France and Switzerland previously referred to gastornithids and ratites and have identified them as belonging to a phorusrhacid for which the name Eleutherornis cotei should be used.

Conclusions/significance: The occurrence of a phorusrhacid in the late Lutetian of Europe indicates that these flightless birds had a wider geographical distribution than previously recognized. The likeliest interpretation is that they dispersed from Africa, where the group is known in the Eocene, which implies crossing the Tethys Sea. The Early Tertiary distribution of phorusrhacids can be best explained by transoceanic dispersal, across both the South Atlantic and the Tethys.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus