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New Material of Pellornis (1 Viewer)

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Grace Musser, Daniel T. Ksepka & Daniel J. Field, 2019

New Material of Paleocene-Eocene Pellornis (Aves: Gruiformes) Clarifies the Pattern and Timing of the Extant Gruiform Radiation

Diversity. 11 (7): Article 102. doi:10.3390/d11070102

Abstract and free pdf: https://www.mdpi.com/1424-2818/11/7/102

Pellornis mikkelseni is an early gruiform from the latest Paleocene-earliest Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark. At approximately 54 million years old, it is among the earliest clear records of the Gruiformes. The holotype specimen, and only material thus far recognised, was originally considered to comprise a partial postcranial skeleton. However, additional mechanical preparation of the nodule containing the holotype revealed that the skeleton is nearly complete and includes a well-preserved skull. In addition to extracting new information from the holotype, we identify and describe two additional specimens of P. mikkelseni which reveal further morphological details of the skeleton. Together, these specimens show that P. mikkelseni possessed a schizorhinal skull and shared many features with the well-known Paleogene Messelornithidae (“Messel rails”). To reassess the phylogenetic position of P. mikkelseni, we modified an existing morphological dataset by adding 20 characters, four extant gruiform taxa, six extinct gruiform taxa, and novel scorings based on the holotype and referred specimens. Phylogenetic analyses recover a clade containing P. mikkelseni, Messelornis, Songzia and crown Ralloidea, supporting P. mikkelseni as a crown gruiform. The phylogenetic position of P. mikkelseni illustrates that some recent divergence time analyses have underestimated the age of crown Gruiformes. Our results suggest a Paleocene origin for this important clade, bolstering evidence for a rapid early radiation of Neoaves following the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.



Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Systematic Paleontology

Aves Linnaeus, 1758
Neognathae Pycraft, 1900.
Messelornithidae Hesse, 1988
Pellornis Bertelli, Chiappe et G. Mayr, 2011

Type Species: Pellornis mikkelseni Bertelli, Chiappe et G. Mayr, 2011

Derivation of name: The generic name is derived from pellis (Lat.: fur) and ornis (Gr.: bird), in reference to both the Fur Formation of Denmark and the fur-like appearance of the plumage remains preserved in the holotype. The species name is dedicated to Bent Søe Mikkelsen, who found the holotype in 1996.

Holotype Specimen: MGUH 29278, a nearly complete articulated skeleton of an adult individual preserved within two slabs

Type locality: Collected at the base of a cli northeast of Sundby, on the island of Mors, northwestern
Jutland, Denmark, latest Paleocene-earliest Eocene

Referred specimen: DK664, a partial skeleton and skull preserved on one slab Locality. Fur Formation, Mors, northwestern Jutland, Denmark, latest Paleocene-earliest Eocene.

FUM 1681a, a partial postcranial skeleton of an adult individual preserved three-dimensionally on one slab


Figs: Holotype MGUH 29278; Referred specimen DK664; FUM 1681a


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