Ancient seabird discovery suggests Paleogene bird diversification

Jan 31, 2014

Bones of a previously unknown species prove to be one of the oldest seabirds.

Fossils discovered in Canterbury, New Zealand reveal the nature of one of the world's oldest flying seabirds. Thought to have lived between 60.5 and 61.6 million years ago, the fossil is suggested to have formed shortly after the extinction of dinosaurs and many .

Bones of the bird were discovered in 2009 by Leigh Love, an amateur fossil collector. The new species, Australornis lovei has been named as such in honour of Love's discovery.

The bird lacks key morphological features of penguins, though it was found near the fossils of the Waimanu manneringi, the oldest penguin, of which it is also estimated to be the same age.

The research is published in Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand by Dr Gerald Mayr and Dr Paul Scofield. The authors claim the discovery 'represents one of the most significant records of a marine Paleocene bird from the Southern Hemisphere' and supports the 'emerging view that most modern birds were already diversified in the earliest Paleogene'.

Despite the distinctness of this , its derived features are not limited to a single bird group. It does resemble an from Antarctica, however, highlighting the links between Antarctica and New Zealand in the late Cretaceous period.

Explore further: Did the South American Hoatzins originate in Europe?

More information: G Mayr & RP Scofield, "First diagnosable non-sphenisciform bird from the early Paleocene of New Zealand." Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, DOI: 10.1080/03036758.2013.863788

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Did the South American Hoatzins originate in Europe?

Jan 23, 2014

Where did hoatzins come from? These unusual birds, only one species of which exists in South America today, originated in the Old World. Studies of the oldest known fossils of Hoatzin ancestors have now shown ...

Primitive birds shared dinosaurs' fate

Sep 19, 2011

A new study puts an end to the longstanding debate about how archaic birds went extinct, suggesting they were virtually wiped out by the same meteorite impact that put an end to dinosaurs 65 million years ...

Researchers reveal new New Zealand fossil dolphin

Jan 22, 2014

(Phys.org) —A newly recognised fossil dolphin from New Zealand, dubbed Papahu taitapu, is the first of its kind ever found and may be a close relation to the ancestors of modern dolphins and toothed whales, ...

Recommended for you

King Richard III died painfully on battlefield

3 hours ago

England's King Richard III might well have lost his kingdom for a horse. The reviled king suffered nearly a dozen injuries on the battlefield, but the fatal blows were probably only sustained after he had to abandon his horse, ...

'Hidden Treasure of Rome' project unveiled

8 hours ago

For more than a century, hundreds of thousands of historical artifacts dating back to before the founding of Rome have been stored in crates in the Capitoline Museums of Rome, where they have remained mostly untouched. Now, ...

NOAA team reveals forgotten ghost ships off Golden Gate

11 hours ago

A team of NOAA researchers today confirmed the discovery just outside San Francisco's Golden Gate strait of the 1910 shipwreck SS Selja and an unidentified early steam tugboat wreck tagged the "mystery wreck." ...

Long lost Roman fort discovered in Gernsheim

12 hours ago

In the course of an educational dig in Gernsheim in the Hessian Ried, archaeologists from Frankfurt University have discovered a long lost Roman fort: A troop unit made up out of approximately 500 soldiers ...

User comments : 0