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A stem falconid bird from the Lower Eocene of Antarctica and the early southern radiation of the falcons

Abstract

Antarctoboenus carlinii nov. gen. nov. sp. is a large-sized falconiform bird from the La Meseta Formation (Lower Eocene) at Seymour (Marambio) Island, West Antarctica. The holotypical tarsometatarsus was originally assigned to Falconidae and its affinities to Polyborinae were pointed out. Detailed osteological and comparative analyses of the Antarctic specimen allowed recognition of the new taxon as a member of stem group Falconidae, i.e. it is supposed to belong to the early radiation of the falconiform lineage. Antarctoboenus carlinii is distinguished from members of crown group Falconidae by having a very shallow sulcus extensorius, a large foramen vasculare distale, an undistinguishable tendinal attachment for the m. adductor digiti II, and short trochlea metatarsi II, among its main diagnostic characters. Purported phylogenetic relationships between A. carlinii and Polyborinae are based on plesiomorphic characters retained in the tarsometatarsus of the latter clade. Our conclusions reinforce the hypothesis about the Neotropical or Austral origin of Falconidae supported by previous molecular phylogenies.

Zusammenfassung

Ein der Stammgruppe Falconidae angehörender Vogel aus dem Untereozän der Antarktis und die frühe südliche Radiation der Falken

Antarctoboenus carlinii nov. gen. nov. sp. ist ein großer falkenartiger Vogel aus der La Meseta Formation (Untereozän) auf der Seymour-Insel (Isla Marambio) in der Westantarktis. Der Holotyp-Tarsometatarsus wurde ursprünglich den Falconidae (Falkenartigen) zugeordnet, und seine Ähnlichkeiten mit den Polyborinae (Geierfalken) wurden hervorgehoben. Detaillierte osteologische und vergleichende Analysen des Antarktis-Exemplars ermöglichten es, das neue Taxon als ein Mitglied der Stammgruppe Falconidae anzuerkennen, d.h. es gehört vermutlich der frühen Radiation der Falconiformes-Abstammungslinie an. Antarctoboenus carlinii unterscheidet sich von den Mitgliedern der Kronengruppe Falconidae durch mehrere diagnostische Merkmale, u.a. einen sehr flachen sulcus extensorius, ein großes foramen vasculare distale, einen undeutlichen Sehnenansatz für den m. adductor digiti II und kurze trochlea metatarsi II. Angebliche phylogenetische Beziehungen zwischen A. carlinii und Polyborinae basieren auf plesiomorphen Merkmalen, die im Tarsometatarsus der Polyborinae erhalten sind. Unsere Schlussfolgerungen stärken die Hypothese eines Neotropen- oder Austral-Ursprungs der Falconidae, die auch von bisherigen molekularen Stammbäumen gestützt wird.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Y. Davies (MACN), P. Tubaro (MACN), H. Alvarenga (MHNT), and S. Bogan (FHN) for assistance during our visits to collections under their care. We especially acknowledge the Instituto Antártico Argentino and Fuerza Aérea Argentina, which provided logistical support for our participation in the Antarctic fieldwork. Finally, we thank B. Lindow and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Marcos Cenizo.

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Communicated by J. Fjeldså.

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Cenizo, M., Noriega, J.I. & Reguero, M.A. A stem falconid bird from the Lower Eocene of Antarctica and the early southern radiation of the falcons. J Ornithol 157, 885–894 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-015-1316-0

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Keywords

  • Fossil bird
  • Falconiformes
  • Paleogene
  • Seymour Island
  • Stem lineage
  • Antarctoboenus carlinii