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New specimens of Eocene stem-group psittaciform birds may shed light on the affinities of the first named fossil bird, Halcyornis toliapicus KOENIG, 1825

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Two well-preserved skulls of the stem-group psittaciform bird Pseudasturides macrocephalus (MAYR, 1998) are described from the Middle Eocene of Messel (Germany). Further reported is a three-dimensionally preserved partial skeleton of a Pseudasturides-like bird from the Isle of Sheppey (England). The new Messel specimens show that, in contrast to previous descriptions, the skull of P. macrocephalus exhibits well-developed fossae temporales. With regard to this and other features, e.g., the narrow interorbital bridge of the os frontale, the cranium of P. macrocephalus closely resembles that of Halcyornis toliapicus KOENIG, 1825, whose affinities have been uncertain so far. Pseudasturides-like birds are the most abundant small birds in the London Clay of the Isle of Sheppey, the type locality of H. toliapicus, indicating that Pseudasturidae MAYR, 1998 may be a junior synonym of Halcyornithidae HARRISON & WALKER, 1972.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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