A new skull of Gobipteryx minuta (Aves, Enantiornithes) from the Cretaceous of the Gobi Desert. American Museum novitates ; no. 3346

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New York, NY : American Museum of Natural History
We describe an exquisitely preserved new skull of a bird from the late Cretaceous sandstones of Ukhaa Tolgod, southern Mongolia. Derived similarities shared between this skull and the holotype of Gobipteryx minuta, also from the late Cretaceous of the Gobi Desert, support the assignment of the new cranial material to this avian taxon. The new skull also proves indistinguishable from that of the enantiornithine Nanantius valifanovi from the late Cretaceous of Mongolia. The identification of the new skull as that of Gobipteryx minuta and its correspondence to that of Nanantius valifanovi indicate that the latter taxon is a junior synonym of Gobipteryx minuta. This taxonomic conclusion is crucial for understanding the phylogenetic relationships of Gobipteryx minuta because the undoubtedly enantiornithine postcranial morphology of Nanantius valifanovi provides the first uncontroversial evidence of the enantiornithine relationship of Gobipteryx minuta. The new skull from Ukhaa Tolgod and our reinterpretation of cranial aspects of the previously published material of Gobipteryx minuta and Nanantius valifanovi permit an accurate reconstruction of the palate of this enantiornithine bird, thus adding significant data for understanding the poorly known palatal structure of Mesozoic birds.
15 p. : ill. ; 26 cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 14-15).