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New specimens of the early Eocene bird Vastanavis and the interrelationships of stem group Psittaciformes

Abstract

We describe new skeletal elements of Vastanavis from the early Eocene Cambay Shale Formation of western India, including a small coracoid that represents an unnamed new species, and comment on the relationships between this avian taxon and the recently described Avolatavis from the early Eocene Green River Formation in North America. Like the previously described ones, the new Vastanavis bones resemble those of the late Eocene Quercypsittidae, thus strengthening psittaciform affinities of the Indian taxon. Vastanavis differs from Avolatavis in the presence of a crista medianoplantaris on the tarsometatarsus and in claw morphology, but a fossil from the early Eocene London Clay, which was previously assigned to Vastanavidae, closely resembles Avolatavis in these features and all other osteological aspects. We show that most branches in a recent phylogeny of stem group Psittaciformes collapse after modification of a single erroneous character scoring for Vastanavis. We further describe a morphologically distinctive distal humerus of a small bird resembling the stem group nyctibiid Paraprefica, which was discovered in the most recent excavation in Vastan Lignite Mine.

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Mayr, G., Rana, R.S., Rose, K.D. et al. New specimens of the early Eocene bird Vastanavis and the interrelationships of stem group Psittaciformes. Paleontol. J. 47, 1308–1314 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1134/S0031030113110105

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1134/S0031030113110105

Keywords

  • fossil birds
  • Vastanavidae
  • Avolatavis
  • India
  • phylogeny