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SVP 76TH ANNUAL MEETING Abstracts part 25 (1 Viewer)

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Netherlands
A SMALL FOSSIL PENGUIN (AVES, SPHENISCIFORMES) FROM THE LATE MIOCENE BAHÍA INGLESA FORMATION, ATACAMA DESERT, NORTHERN CHILE
YURY, Roberto E., Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

Penguins (Spheniscidae) are diverse and abundant birds in the Cenozoic assemblages of the Southern Hemisphere. The Bahía Inglesa Formation (middle Miocene – Pliocene) is the most abundant and best studied Neogene fossil vertebrate assemblage in Chile. Penguins are the most abundant birds in this unit, with five different species from two genera, Spheniscus and Pygoscelis. A small tarsomatatarsus is presented here and recognized as a Spheniscus representative. The fossil is characterized by small size, comparable to the smallest extant species of Spheniscidae, the Little Penguin Eudyptula minor. The genus Spheniscus is characterized by large variation of osteological characters, which make the assignment of isolated fossil materials difficult. Nevertheless, a unique combination of characters is presented for distinguishing the species here described from extant and fossil species of the genus. With the addition of the present record, two important features of Spheniscus can be pointed out: it is the penguin genus with the largest latitudinal range distribution, recorded from Antarctica in the Late Miocene to the Galapagos Islands today. A remarkable size spectrum is displayed among the fossil and modern species, with the smallest species recorded described here, to the Late Miocene extinct Spheniscus urbinai comparable in size to the King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus. The addition of a new record to the Miocene penguin fauna of the Bahía Inglesa Formation is consistent with a greater than extant diversity during the Neogene as has been described in other localities; clear examples are the Miocene fauna of southern Argentina, Peru, and South Africa. All these localities share a major diversity of Spheniscidae, and then being reduced to the Plio-Pleistocene limit, showing the current diversity, mostly monospecific. Faunal turnover patterns and impoverishment of diversity is common at the end of the Neogene in marine mammals, which are commonly associated with the penguin fossil record in the Southern Hemisphere.
 

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