Patagopteryx: it’s a hen-sized ostrich sister in the LRT

Patagopteryx deferrariisi (Late Cretaceous, 80mya; Alvarenga and Bonaparte 1992, Chiappe 1996, Chiappe 2002, MACN-N-03, 10, 11, 14 and others) was a hen-sized bird originally considered a ratite, but later (Chiappe 1996) nested it between Enantiornithes and Hesperonis. Back then Patagopteryx was one of only a few Cretaceous birds known. Here, with more included taxa, Patagopteryx nests with Struthio, the ostrich, back among the ratites.

FIgure 1. Patagopteryx compared to Struthio to scale and scaled to a similar shoulder height.

FIgure 1. Patagopteryx compared to Struthio to scale and scaled to a similar shoulder height. This Late Cretaceous taxon retained four toes and a robust tail.

Four toes are present.
As in Casaurius pedal ungual 2 is elongate. The pubis tip bends ventrally, like a boot. The anterior skull is unknown but otherwise is similar to Struthio.

Figure 2. Patagopteryx skull from Chiappe 2002 with color restoration.

Figure 2. Patagopteryx skull from Chiappe 2002 with color restoration show the skull to be very ostrich like. Note the tiny squamosal barely overlapping the quadrate, smaller than in Struthio.

Aepyornis, the elephant bird, moves over the the tinamous with this taxon addition.

Figure 3. Struthio skull with a long maxilla.

Figure 3. Struthio skull with a long maxilla.

References
Alvarenga and Bonaparte 1992.
 A new flightless land bird from the Cretaceous of Patagonia; pp. 51–64 in K. E. Campbell (ed.), Papers in Avian Paleontology, Honoring Pierce Brodkorb. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Science Series 36.
Chiappe LM 1996. Early avian evolution in the southern hemisphere: Fossil record of birds in the Mesozoic of Gondwana. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 39:533–556.
Chiappe LM 2002. Osteology of the flightless Patagopteryx deferrariisi from the late Cretaceous of Patagonia (Argentina) pp.281–316 in Mesozoic Birds, Above the Heads of Dinosaurs, Chapter: 13, Editors: Chiappe LM and Witmer LM, University of California Press.

http://www.reptileevolution.com/struthio.htm

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