Refereed Article A new flightless gallinule (Aves: Rallidae: Gallinula) from the Oligo-Miocene of Riversleigh, northwestern Queensland, Australia

Citation: Boles, W.E. 2005. A new flightless gallinule (Aves: Rallidae: Gallinula) from the Oligo-Miocene of Riversleigh, northwestern Queensland, Australia. Records of the Australian Museum. 57. 179–190.

Abstract:

Flightlessness in birds occurs in a taxonomically diverse array of families, but is best exemplified in the rails (Rallidae). Most flightless species of rails live on islands, where the absence of native mammalian predators may make flight superfluous. Fossil rails from Oligo-Miocene sites at Riversleigh, northwestern Queensland, Australia, are considered to represent a single species of gallinule Gallinula, described here as new. Compared with four Quaternary species of Gallinula from Australasia (two volant, two non-volant), it shows similarities with the flightless species in the development of the fore- and hindlimb elements and in other characteristics of limb bone morphology associated with flightlessness. These indicate that the Riversleigh species was non-volant. Its relationships with the
Quaternary species, including the flightless Gallinula mortierii, now restricted to Tasmania, but known from Plio-Pleistocene deposits in eastern mainland Australia, are considered.

Full PDF: A new flightless gallinule (Aves: Rallidae: Gallinula) from the Oligo-Miocene of Riversleigh, northwestern Queensland, Australia

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