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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.

No MeSH data available.


Life reconstruction of Septencoracias morsensis gen. et sp. nov.Salient diagnostic features of the new fossil relative to other rollers include the larger skull and the small, ovoid and dorsally positioned narial openings. Septencoracias is represented with a brownish and bluish plumage, because brownish and/or bluish feathers occur in all species of rollers and most species of ground-rollers32, and are probably primitive within the Coracii. Plumage pattern and colour are partly based on modifications from: Christian Svane (csv) - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=719240. Artwork by E.B.
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f3: Life reconstruction of Septencoracias morsensis gen. et sp. nov.Salient diagnostic features of the new fossil relative to other rollers include the larger skull and the small, ovoid and dorsally positioned narial openings. Septencoracias is represented with a brownish and bluish plumage, because brownish and/or bluish feathers occur in all species of rollers and most species of ground-rollers32, and are probably primitive within the Coracii. Plumage pattern and colour are partly based on modifications from: Christian Svane (csv) - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=719240. Artwork by E.B.

Mentions: The skull of Septencoracias is large compared to the body, being more than twice the length of the synsacrum and nearly twice the length of the humerus (Fig. 1; Tables S1 and S2). It is significantly larger than in other rollers including Primobucco, and is more similar in proportion to that of kingfishers, motmots, and bee-eaters (Fig. 3; Table S2). The temporal fossa of Septencoracias is small and shallow, unlike in extant rollers. The postorbital process is not preserved. The parasphenoid rostrum is stout and lacks basipterygoid processes. The interorbital septum is largely ossified, as in other members of the Coracii. The poorly developed ectethmoid is smaller than that of Coraciidae and does not fuse with the lacrimal or frontal. The mesethmoid is larger than in extant rollers. The lateral part of the palatine seems poorly developed, in contrast to the large lamina found in extant rollers. The right pterygoid is a stout, rod-like bone that lacks a prominent articular facet for the basipterygoid.


A roller-like bird (Coracii) from the Early Eocene of Denmark
Life reconstruction of Septencoracias morsensis gen. et sp. nov.Salient diagnostic features of the new fossil relative to other rollers include the larger skull and the small, ovoid and dorsally positioned narial openings. Septencoracias is represented with a brownish and bluish plumage, because brownish and/or bluish feathers occur in all species of rollers and most species of ground-rollers32, and are probably primitive within the Coracii. Plumage pattern and colour are partly based on modifications from: Christian Svane (csv) - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=719240. Artwork by E.B.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

f3: Life reconstruction of Septencoracias morsensis gen. et sp. nov.Salient diagnostic features of the new fossil relative to other rollers include the larger skull and the small, ovoid and dorsally positioned narial openings. Septencoracias is represented with a brownish and bluish plumage, because brownish and/or bluish feathers occur in all species of rollers and most species of ground-rollers32, and are probably primitive within the Coracii. Plumage pattern and colour are partly based on modifications from: Christian Svane (csv) - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=719240. Artwork by E.B.
Mentions: The skull of Septencoracias is large compared to the body, being more than twice the length of the synsacrum and nearly twice the length of the humerus (Fig. 1; Tables S1 and S2). It is significantly larger than in other rollers including Primobucco, and is more similar in proportion to that of kingfishers, motmots, and bee-eaters (Fig. 3; Table S2). The temporal fossa of Septencoracias is small and shallow, unlike in extant rollers. The postorbital process is not preserved. The parasphenoid rostrum is stout and lacks basipterygoid processes. The interorbital septum is largely ossified, as in other members of the Coracii. The poorly developed ectethmoid is smaller than that of Coraciidae and does not fuse with the lacrimal or frontal. The mesethmoid is larger than in extant rollers. The lateral part of the palatine seems poorly developed, in contrast to the large lamina found in extant rollers. The right pterygoid is a stout, rod-like bone that lacks a prominent articular facet for the basipterygoid.

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.