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A roller-like bird (Coracii) from the Early Eocene of Denmark

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The fossil record of crown group birds (Neornithes) prior to the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary is scarce and fragmentary. Early Cenozoic bird fossils are more abundant, but are typically disarticulated and/or flattened. Here we report the oldest roller (Coracii), Septencoracias morsensis gen. et sp. nov. (Primobucconidae), based on a new specimen from the Early Eocene (about 54 million years ago) Fur Formation of Denmark. The new fossil is a nearly complete, three-dimensionally preserved and articulated skeleton. It lies at the lower end of the size range for extant rollers. Salient diagnostic features of Septencoracias relative to other Coracii include the proportionally larger skull and the small, ovoid and dorsally positioned narial openings. Our discovery adds to the evidence that the Coracii had a widespread northern hemisphere distribution in the Eocene. Septencoracias is the oldest substantial record of the Picocoraciae and provides a reliable calibration point for molecular phylogenetic studies.

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The holotype of Septencoracias morsensis gen. et sp. nov. (MGUH.VP 9509).(a) Photograph of whole specimen. (b) 3D white light scanning of the whole specimen. (c) Interpretative drawing with damaged areas of the skull, fish remains and soft tissues represented in dark grey. Abbreviations: al1–2, phalanges of alular digit; ap, narial opening; at, atlas; ax, axis; c, cervical vertebrae; ca, carpometacarpus; cd1–7, caudal vertebrae; co, vertebral costae; cp, costal process; cr, cranium; d, damage in the skull area; dm, phalanx of minor digit; dM1, proximal phalanx of major digit; dM2, distal phalanx of major digit; ec, ectethmoid; f, femur; fi, fish remains; ft, foramina intertransversaria; fv, fish vertebra; h, humerus; if, ilioischiadic foramen; is, ischium; md, mandibula; me, mesethmoid; mx, maxilla; mI, metatarsal I; pa, palatine; pb, pubis; po, postacetabular wing of ilium; pr, preacetabular wing of ilium; pt, pterygoid; pu, uncinate process; py, pygostyle; ra, radius; rd, radial carpal bone; sc, scapula; st, soft tissues; sy, synsacrum; ta, tarsometatarsus; tb, tibiotarsus; u, ulna; ul, ulnar carpal bone; I1–2, phalanges of pedal digit I; II1–3, phalanges of pedal digit II; III1–4, phalanges of pedal digit III; IV1–5, phalanges of pedal digit IV. The ‘r’ and ‘l’ prefixes indicate right and left, respectively. Artwork by E.B.
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f1: The holotype of Septencoracias morsensis gen. et sp. nov. (MGUH.VP 9509).(a) Photograph of whole specimen. (b) 3D white light scanning of the whole specimen. (c) Interpretative drawing with damaged areas of the skull, fish remains and soft tissues represented in dark grey. Abbreviations: al1–2, phalanges of alular digit; ap, narial opening; at, atlas; ax, axis; c, cervical vertebrae; ca, carpometacarpus; cd1–7, caudal vertebrae; co, vertebral costae; cp, costal process; cr, cranium; d, damage in the skull area; dm, phalanx of minor digit; dM1, proximal phalanx of major digit; dM2, distal phalanx of major digit; ec, ectethmoid; f, femur; fi, fish remains; ft, foramina intertransversaria; fv, fish vertebra; h, humerus; if, ilioischiadic foramen; is, ischium; md, mandibula; me, mesethmoid; mx, maxilla; mI, metatarsal I; pa, palatine; pb, pubis; po, postacetabular wing of ilium; pr, preacetabular wing of ilium; pt, pterygoid; pu, uncinate process; py, pygostyle; ra, radius; rd, radial carpal bone; sc, scapula; st, soft tissues; sy, synsacrum; ta, tarsometatarsus; tb, tibiotarsus; u, ulna; ul, ulnar carpal bone; I1–2, phalanges of pedal digit I; II1–3, phalanges of pedal digit II; III1–4, phalanges of pedal digit III; IV1–5, phalanges of pedal digit IV. The ‘r’ and ‘l’ prefixes indicate right and left, respectively. Artwork by E.B.

Mentions: The new bird is a nearly complete, mostly articulated skeleton that is preserved uncrushed and in three dimensions, which is very rare (Fig. 1). The fossil record of crown group birds prior to the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary is scarce and mostly consists of fragmentary remains of uncertain affinities16. A few sub-complete, three-dimensionally preserved neornithine fossils have been described from the Early Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark356717 and Early Eocene Willwood Formation of Wyoming181920. Other key deposits of Paleocene to Early Eocene age have typically yielded disarticulated or flattened specimens162122232425262728293031.


A roller-like bird (Coracii) from the Early Eocene of Denmark
The holotype of Septencoracias morsensis gen. et sp. nov. (MGUH.VP 9509).(a) Photograph of whole specimen. (b) 3D white light scanning of the whole specimen. (c) Interpretative drawing with damaged areas of the skull, fish remains and soft tissues represented in dark grey. Abbreviations: al1–2, phalanges of alular digit; ap, narial opening; at, atlas; ax, axis; c, cervical vertebrae; ca, carpometacarpus; cd1–7, caudal vertebrae; co, vertebral costae; cp, costal process; cr, cranium; d, damage in the skull area; dm, phalanx of minor digit; dM1, proximal phalanx of major digit; dM2, distal phalanx of major digit; ec, ectethmoid; f, femur; fi, fish remains; ft, foramina intertransversaria; fv, fish vertebra; h, humerus; if, ilioischiadic foramen; is, ischium; md, mandibula; me, mesethmoid; mx, maxilla; mI, metatarsal I; pa, palatine; pb, pubis; po, postacetabular wing of ilium; pr, preacetabular wing of ilium; pt, pterygoid; pu, uncinate process; py, pygostyle; ra, radius; rd, radial carpal bone; sc, scapula; st, soft tissues; sy, synsacrum; ta, tarsometatarsus; tb, tibiotarsus; u, ulna; ul, ulnar carpal bone; I1–2, phalanges of pedal digit I; II1–3, phalanges of pedal digit II; III1–4, phalanges of pedal digit III; IV1–5, phalanges of pedal digit IV. The ‘r’ and ‘l’ prefixes indicate right and left, respectively. Artwork by E.B.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5037458&req=5

f1: The holotype of Septencoracias morsensis gen. et sp. nov. (MGUH.VP 9509).(a) Photograph of whole specimen. (b) 3D white light scanning of the whole specimen. (c) Interpretative drawing with damaged areas of the skull, fish remains and soft tissues represented in dark grey. Abbreviations: al1–2, phalanges of alular digit; ap, narial opening; at, atlas; ax, axis; c, cervical vertebrae; ca, carpometacarpus; cd1–7, caudal vertebrae; co, vertebral costae; cp, costal process; cr, cranium; d, damage in the skull area; dm, phalanx of minor digit; dM1, proximal phalanx of major digit; dM2, distal phalanx of major digit; ec, ectethmoid; f, femur; fi, fish remains; ft, foramina intertransversaria; fv, fish vertebra; h, humerus; if, ilioischiadic foramen; is, ischium; md, mandibula; me, mesethmoid; mx, maxilla; mI, metatarsal I; pa, palatine; pb, pubis; po, postacetabular wing of ilium; pr, preacetabular wing of ilium; pt, pterygoid; pu, uncinate process; py, pygostyle; ra, radius; rd, radial carpal bone; sc, scapula; st, soft tissues; sy, synsacrum; ta, tarsometatarsus; tb, tibiotarsus; u, ulna; ul, ulnar carpal bone; I1–2, phalanges of pedal digit I; II1–3, phalanges of pedal digit II; III1–4, phalanges of pedal digit III; IV1–5, phalanges of pedal digit IV. The ‘r’ and ‘l’ prefixes indicate right and left, respectively. Artwork by E.B.
Mentions: The new bird is a nearly complete, mostly articulated skeleton that is preserved uncrushed and in three dimensions, which is very rare (Fig. 1). The fossil record of crown group birds prior to the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary is scarce and mostly consists of fragmentary remains of uncertain affinities16. A few sub-complete, three-dimensionally preserved neornithine fossils have been described from the Early Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark356717 and Early Eocene Willwood Formation of Wyoming181920. Other key deposits of Paleocene to Early Eocene age have typically yielded disarticulated or flattened specimens162122232425262728293031.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The fossil record of crown group birds (Neornithes) prior to the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary is scarce and fragmentary. Early Cenozoic bird fossils are more abundant, but are typically disarticulated and/or flattened. Here we report the oldest roller (Coracii), Septencoracias morsensis gen. et sp. nov. (Primobucconidae), based on a new specimen from the Early Eocene (about 54 million years ago) Fur Formation of Denmark. The new fossil is a nearly complete, three-dimensionally preserved and articulated skeleton. It lies at the lower end of the size range for extant rollers. Salient diagnostic features of Septencoracias relative to other Coracii include the proportionally larger skull and the small, ovoid and dorsally positioned narial openings. Our discovery adds to the evidence that the Coracii had a widespread northern hemisphere distribution in the Eocene. Septencoracias is the oldest substantial record of the Picocoraciae and provides a reliable calibration point for molecular phylogenetic studies.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus