Miocene false-toothed pelican

?Pelagornis miocaenus Lartet, 1857

New Zealand status: Native

Conservation status: Extinct

Other names: Miocene falsetoothed pelican, Miocene false toothed pelican

 
 
 
Miocene false-toothed pelican. Holotype distal left humerus in Paris Museum. Armagnac, France. Image © Alan Tennyson by Alan Tennyson

Miocene false-toothed pelican. Holotype distal left humerus in Paris Museum. Armagnac, France. Image © Alan Tennyson by Alan Tennyson

Ron Scarlett described a proximal right humerus found in Middle to Late Miocene (15-8 million-year-old) sediments near the mouth of Waipara River (North Canterbury) as probably that of a pelagornithid. Four years later, Harrison & Walker tentatively assigned the specimen to the Miocene false-toothed pelican Pelagornis miocaenus.

Pelagornithids (false-toothed pelicans) were gigantic marine birds of uncertain relationships, but currently grouped with pelicans, gannets, cormorants and frigatebirds. They had a worldwide distribution between the late Paleocene and the end of the Pliocene (56-3 million years ago). The smallest species were the size of an albatross, and the largest species had wingspans of 5-6 metres.

The Miocene false-toothed pelican was a large pelagornithid described from the Early and Middle Miocene of France. The only New Zealand specimen (CMNZ AV 24960) is held in Canterbury Museum.

Weblinks

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudodontornis

References

Harrison, C.J.O.; Walker, C.A. 1976. A review of the bony-toothed birds (Odontopterygiformes): with descriptions of some new species. Tertiary Research Special Paper 2: 1-62. London,  Tertiary Research Group.

Mayr, G.; Rubilar-Rogers, D. 2010. Osteology of a new giant bony-toothed bird from the Miocene of Chile, with a revision of the taxonomy of Neogene Pelagornithidae. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30: 1313-1330.

Scarlett, R.J. 1972. Bone of a presumed odontopterygian bird from the Miocene of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 15: 269-274.

Recommended citation

Miskelly, C.M. 2013. Miocene false-toothed pelican. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Miocene false-toothed pelican

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