A new species from an ornithuromorph (Aves: Ornithothoraces) dominated locality of the Jehol Biota
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- Zhou, S., O’Connor, J.K. & Wang, M. Chin. Sci. Bull. (2014) 59: 5366. doi:10.1007/s11434-014-0669-8
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We report on a new species of ornithuromorph bird, Iteravis huchzermeyeri gen. et sp. nov., from the previously unreported Sihedang locality of the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation, the oldest ornithuromorph bearing deposit in the world. Unlike most other Cretaceous localities, specimens from this new quarry are largely referable to Ornithuromorpha, similar to the Lower Cretaceous Aptian Xiagou Formation in Gansu Province. Also similar to the Xiagou avifauna, the fauna at Sihedang is largely dominated by a single taxon (described here). Differences in faunal dominance may suggest the Sihedang records a unique ecological habitat. This may also explain the dominance of Gansus in the younger Xiagou Formation locality and suggests that previous hypotheses regarding the shift in dominance between Enantiornithes and Ornithuromorpha need to be reassessed in terms of potential ecological biases due to limited sampling. Furthermore, the recognition of an ornithuromorph dominated locality in the Sihedang significantly weakens the signal of such an inferred trend. Compared to most Jehol birds, the new specimen is relatively better preserved in three dimensions revealing morphological details of the skeleton, as well as preserves feather impressions including a rectricial morphology previously unknown among Mesozoic birds.