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Fossil birds: Contributions to the understanding of avian evolution
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Geological Sciences.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The study of the evolution of birds began about 150 years ago with the finding of Archaeopteryx. Yet, many unsolved questions about avian evolution remain to be answered. This thesis aims at addressing some of these questions.

The Early Cretaceous Confusiusornis is the most well-represented Mesozoic bird in the fossil record. The abundance of fossils facilitates a study of the preservation of specimens in the two geological formations in which this taxon is found. It was demonstrated that specimens in the Yixiang Formation always are represented by complete, articulated skeletons, while those in the Jiofutang Formation often lack the pectoral girdle and the wings.

Despite the many specimens available of Confusiusornis few clues to the diet of this taxon have been found. We describe a Confusiusornis specimen with a pellet of fish remains preserved in the throat region.

The enantiornithid birds probably constituted the most species-rich and diverse bird group during the Cretaceous. Several well-preserved specimens have been found in China, e.g. Grabauornis lingyuanensis described herein.

The mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous probably gave the only surviving group of birds,Neornithes,chance to radiate and evolve into new niches. One such group is the Strigiformes (owls). We describe a new species from the Eocene Green River Formation in USAthat we suggest is closely related to the contemporary European Prosybris antique and P. medius.

Although birds are known from several Miocene localities in Europe, the discovery of vertebrate fossils in the Hambach opencast lignite mine was thus unexpected and remarkable. The most significant bird found in Hambach is a specimen of darter, genus Anhinga. It agrees in size, proportions and morphology the fossil species Anhinga pannonica to which we refer the Hambach specimen. Fossils of ducks and galliforms have also been found in deposits at Hambach dated to the Pliocene.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University , 2012. , 35 p.
Series
Meddelanden från Stockholms universitets institution för geologiska vetenskaper, 349
National Category
Geology Evolutionary Biology
Research subject
General and Historical Geology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-75015ISBN: 978-91-7447-462-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-75015DiVA: diva2:513689
Public defence
2012-05-04, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Submitted. Paper 4: Submitted.

Available from: 2012-04-12 Created: 2012-04-03 Last updated: 2014-10-24Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Differential preservation of Confuciusornis specimens in the Yixian and Jiufotang formations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Differential preservation of Confuciusornis specimens in the Yixian and Jiufotang formations
(English)Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Keyword
Aves, taphonomy, Confuciusornis
National Category
Geology Evolutionary Biology
Research subject
General and Historical Geology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-75013 (URN)
Available from: 2012-04-03 Created: 2012-04-03 Last updated: 2012-04-04Bibliographically approved
2. Food remains in Confuciusornis sanctus suggest a fish diet
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Food remains in Confuciusornis sanctus suggest a fish diet
2006 (English)In: Die Naturwissenschaften, ISSN 0028-1042, E-ISSN 1432-1904, Vol. 93, no 9, 444-446 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Despite hundreds of excellent fossils of Confuciusornis, the most abundant group of birds in the Early Cretaceous, ‘Jehol Biota’ in China, there is yet no indication of the food choice of these birds. Here, we describe fish remains preserved in the alimentary system of a specimen of Confuciusornis sanctus from the Jiufotang Formation. This find is about five million years younger than all previously published confuciusornithid birds from the Yixian Formation. Although it is unknown how common fish was in the diet of Confuciusornis, the find does not support previous hypotheses that it fed on plants or grain.

National Category
Geology Evolutionary Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-75010 (URN)10.1007/s00114-006-0125-y (DOI)
Available from: 2012-04-03 Created: 2012-04-03 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
3. A New Enantiornithes (Aves) from the Early Cretaceous of China
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A New Enantiornithes (Aves) from the Early Cretaceous of China
2014 (English)In: Acta Geologica Sinica, ISSN 1000-9515, E-ISSN 1755-6724, Vol. 88, no 4, 1034-1040 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A new bird from the early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Liaoning, China is described. This new species, Grabauornis lingyuanensis, shares several synapomorphies with the Enantiornithes. The specimen is relatively well preserved. The skeletal morphology of Grabauornis bears close resemblance to that of other Chinese members of this clade. The brachial index (the ratio between the lengths of humerus and ulna) is 0.95, which is close to the average for enantiornithine birds. It indicates that Grabauornis was a rather good flyer, and the presence of an alula in the wing further testifies to this.

Keyword
Enantiornithes, Aves, Early Cretaceous, Yixian Formation, Liaoning, China
National Category
Geology Evolutionary Biology
Research subject
General and Historical Geology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108381 (URN)10.1111/1755-6724.12270 (DOI)000341580300006 ()
Note

AuthorCount:3;

Available from: 2014-10-24 Created: 2014-10-22 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
4. A new species of owl (Aves: Strigiformes) from the Eocene Wasatch Formation, Wyoming
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A new species of owl (Aves: Strigiformes) from the Eocene Wasatch Formation, Wyoming
(English)Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Keyword
Aves, owls, Strigiformes, tarsometatarsus, taxonomy, fossil, paleontology
National Category
Geology Evolutionary Biology
Research subject
General and Historical Geology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-75014 (URN)
Available from: 2012-04-03 Created: 2012-04-03 Last updated: 2012-04-04Bibliographically approved
5. Fossil birds from the Miocene and Pliocene of Hambach (NW Germany)
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fossil birds from the Miocene and Pliocene of Hambach (NW Germany)
2006 (English)In: Palaeontographica. Abteilung A, Palaozoologie, Stratigraphie, ISSN 0375-0442, Vol. 277, no 1-6, 113-121 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Keyword
Aves, Neogene, Lower Rhine Basin, morphology, taxonomy
National Category
Geology Evolutionary Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-75012 (URN)
Available from: 2012-04-03 Created: 2012-04-03 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved

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