Sylviornis: Not a megapode. Not a ratite. Not a giant stem chicken…

In the large reptile tree (LRT, 1080 taxa) the giant recently extinct bird from New Caledonia, Sylviornis (Poplin 1980) nests with basal hook-beak predatory birds, like the seriema (Cariama), the secretary bird (Sagittarius) and the terror birds, like Phorusrhacos.

Figure 1. Sylviornis is not a giant chicken. It's a basal predatory bird.

Figure 1. Sylviornis is not a giant chicken. It’s a giant secretary bird.

It’s a different kind of terror bird
on a small island east of Australia. It was originally considered a ratite, then a megapode, then a stem chicken (Gallus) not quite a meter in length. The premaxilla forms a crest. The narrow rostrum is mobile relative to the wide cranium.

Worthy et al 2016 reported,
“Osteology Supports a Stem-Galliform Affinity for the Giant Extinct Flightless Bird Sylviornis neocaledoniae (Sylviornithidae, Galloanseres).”

Due to convergence,
be very wary of osteology determining relationships. Only cladograms determine relationships. In this case, the authors excluded Cariama and Sagittarius, proximal sisters to Sylviornis in the LRT.

References
Poplin F 1980. Sylviornis neocaledoniae n. g., n. sp. (Aves), ratite éteint de la Nouvelle-Calédonie”. Comptes Rendus de l’Académie des Sciences, Série D (in French). 290: 691–694.
Mourer-Chauviré C and Balouet JC 2005. Description of the skull of the genus Sylviornis Poplin, 1980 (Aves, Galliformes, Sylviornithidae new family), a giant extinct bird from the Holocene of New Caledonia. In Alcover, J. A.; Bover, P. Proceedings of the International Symposium “Insular Vertebrate Evolution: the Palaeontological Approach”. Monografies de la Societat d’Història Natural de les Balears. 12. pp. 205–218.
Worthy TH et al. 2016. Osteology Supports a Stem-Galliform Affinity for the Giant Extinct Flightless Bird Sylviornis neocaledoniae (Sylviornithidae, Galloanseres). PLoS ONE 11(3): e0150871. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150871

wiki/Sagittarius
wiki/Llallawavis
wiki/Phorusrhacos
wiki/Sylviornis

2 thoughts on “Sylviornis: Not a megapode. Not a ratite. Not a giant stem chicken…

  1. “be very wary of osteology determining relationships. Only cladograms determine relationships.”

    Unintentionally funny.

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