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Macrornis tanaupus Seeley, 1866 (1 Viewer)

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Eric Buffetaut and Dephine Angst, 2021

Macrornis tanaupus Seeley, 1866: an enigmatic giant bird from the upper Eocene of England

Geological Magazine. in press

Abstract: https://www.cambridge.org/core/jour...e-of-england/644A645383E9E2BD2B5DD1654AE3FD30

A large bone from the upper Eocene Totland Bay Formation of Hordle Cliff (Hampshire), originally described by Seeley (1866) as Macrornis tanaupus and interpreted by him as belonging to a ‘large Struthious bird’, is redescribed and illustrated for the first time. It is not a reptile bone, as previously suggested, but the proximal part of a left avian tibiotarsus. A mass estimate of 43 kg, comparable to that of an emu, suggests that it was flightless. A precise identification is difficult because of the incompleteness of the specimen, and Macrornis tanaupus should probably be considered as a nomen dubium. We exclude Seeley’s interpretation as a ratite, as well as previous attributions to gastornithids. We tentatively suggest that the specimen may belong to a phorusrhacid, which would extend the stratigraphic record of this group in Europe by a few million years. The presence of a large terrestrial bird in the upper Eocene of Europe may have a bearing on the interpretation of enigmatic footprints of very large birds from the upper Eocene Paris gypsum.



Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Fig. 1. (Colour online) Holotype of Macrornis tanaupus Seeley, left tibiotarsus SM C20910, in (a) medial, (b) cranial, (c) lateral and (d) distal (cross-section of the broken shaft) views. Abbreviations: le – linea extensoria; cf – inception of crista fibularis. Scale bar = 50 mm.


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