Australian Museum Journal A new avian species with tubercle-bearing cervical vertebrae from the Middle Eocene of Messel (Germany). In Proceedings of the VII International Meeting of the Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution, ed. W.E. Boles and T.H. Worthy

Shortform:
Mayr, 2010, Rec. Aust. Mus. 62(1): 21–28
Author(s):
Mayr, Gerald
Year published:
2010
Title:
A new avian species with tubercle-bearing cervical vertebrae from the Middle Eocene of Messel (Germany). In Proceedings of the VII International Meeting of the Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution, ed. W.E. Boles and T.H. Worthy
Serial title:
Records of the Australian Museum
Volume:
62
Issue:
1
Start page:
21
End page:
28
DOI:
10.3853/j.0067-1975.62.2010.1537
Language:
English
Date published:
26 May 2010
Cover date:
26 May 2010
ISSN:
0067-1975
CODEN:
RAUMAJ
Publisher:
The Australian Museum
Place published:
Sydney, Australia
Subjects:
AVES; PALAEONTOLOGY; OSTEOLOGY; EOCENE, MIDDLE
Reference number:
1537
EndNote package:
EndNote file
Title page:
Title page (36kb PDF)
Complete work:
Complete work (721kb PDF)

Abstract

A new avian species, Perplexicervix microcephalon n.gen. and n.sp., is described from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany. It is most unusual in that the cervical vertebrae of five of the six known specimens bear numerous bony tubercles. Such tubercles were also reported from another avian fossil from the Messel deposits, which is a representative of the extinct taxon Idiornithidae. Although the osteology of P. microcephalon is not known well enough for a reliable phylogenetic assignment, the new species clearly does not belong to the Idiornithidae. Compared to extant birds, it agrees with Anhimidae and Cathartidae in some osteological features. The origin of the vertebral tubercles remains mysterious. The fact that these structures are now known from two unrelated avian taxa supports previous assumptions, that they represent a pathologic condition. Not in line with this assumption, however, is their occurrence in all specimens referred to P. microcephalon, in which cervical vertebrae are preserved.