A review of the Bathornithidae (Aves, Gruiformes), with remarks on the relationships of the suborder Cariamae. American Museum novitates ; no. 2326

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New York, N.Y. : American Museum of Natural History
"The fossil history of the Bathornithidae (Gruiformes, suborder Cariamae) is reviewed. All previously described species of Bathornis (celeripes, veredus, geographicus, cursor) are considered to be valid. The fossil deposits near Torrington, Wyoming, in which B. celeripes and B. cursor were first discovered, are not Upper Oligocene but are, instead, Lower Oligocene (late Chadronian). A new species, Bathornis fricki, is described from Lower Miocene deposits of Wyoming. Paracrax antiqua (Marsh) is transferred from the Cracidae (Galliformes) to the Bathornithidae, and two new species are described for that genus. The first, P. wetmorei from Upper Oligocene sediments, is represented by abundant material, including the ulna, humerus, coracoid, scapula, sternum, and pelvis. The sternum is unique morphologically within the class Aves, because the keel is very much reduced and has small anterior and posterior elevations. The condition of the sternum indicates that P. wetmorei was flightless. The second species described, P. gigantea, is based on a humerus and carpometacarpus, both of which were collected in Upper Oligocene deposits (Brule Formation) in South Dakota. This bird was quite large, perhaps standing 6 or 7 feet in height. Three evolutionary lines are recognizable within the family. The first includes Bathornis celeripes, which was probably ancestral to B. fricki. The second line consists of B. veredus, B. geographicus, and B. cursor. Bathornis veredus was probably ancestral to B. geographicus; B. cursor shows doubtful relationships to this second line. The last group encompasses the three species of Paracrax. Although no species was ancestral to any other, P. wetmorei and P. gigantea were apparently more closely related, whereas antiqua stands somewhat apart. This study reaffirms the view that the family is closely related to the Cariamidae and phororhacoids. However, a major conclusion is that the Bathornithidae are morphologically distinct and should not be placed in the same family as the cariamids and phororhacoids. Furthermore, little supporting evidence is seen for recognizing natural subdivisions within the Cariamae and for splitting the phororhacoids into several phyletic lines, as some authors have done. A linear sequence of families within the Cariamae is suggested at this time"--P. 43-44.
46 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 45-46).