Parrot mimic from the Early Cretaceous

This fossil can be found
(Figs. 1, 2) in the Jeholornis Wikipedia page, labeled Shenzhouraptor. It’s interesting because the rostrum of this Early Cretaceous bird (with impressed feathers) has a downturned tip unlike that of any local taxon. Of course the dentary turns down anteriorly to fit it, as in the convergent parrot, Ara (Fig. 3). I don’t know what the museum number is, nor do I have any reference works that name the genus and species.

Figure 1. What is the museum number and latest generic label for this specimen?

Figure 1. What is the museum number and latest generic label for this specimen?

Here
(subset Fig. 3) it nests with the larger Jeholornis in the large reptile tree (LRT, 1068 taxa). Both are scansoriopterygids.

Figure 2. The Hong Kong specimen attributed to Shenzhouraptor reconstructed from a low-rez image.

Figure 2. The Hong Kong specimen attributed to Shenzhouraptor reconstructed from a low-rez image. If higher resolution is available, please send it along. There is much I am guessing at here. Not sure how to interpret the rostrum based on the presently crappy data. The scale bar is inaccurate.

Figure 3. Scansoriopterygidae includes two Solnhofen birds traditionally labeled Archaeopteryx, but clearly distinct genera. Note, none of these taxa have a styliform bone, as originally figured in Yi qi.

Figure 3. Scansoriopterygidae includes two Solnhofen birds traditionally labeled Archaeopteryx, but clearly distinct genera. Note, none of these taxa have a styliform bone, as originally figured in Yi qi.

By convergence,
The parrot, Ara (below), has features similar to those first appearing in the Hong Kong specimen. Note the deep robust mandible and the ascending jugal, separating the orbit from the conjoined temporal fenestra, making the skull stronger for cracking seeds.

Figure 4. Skull of Ara macao with bones colored.

Figure 4. Skull of Ara macao with bones colored.

References
Looking for them now.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeholornis

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Juehuaornis traced and reconstructed from lo-rez data

Figure 1. Juehuaornis in situ with tracing

Figure 1. Juehuaornis in situ with tracing

Juehuaornis zhangi (Wang et al. 2015) is a new ornithuromorph genus from the Early Cretaceous of western Liaoning, China.

Figure 2. Juehuaornis reconstructed. Note the scale bars. This is a tiny bird.

Figure 2. Juehuaornis reconstructed. Note the scale bars. This is a tiny bird.

From the abstract: Here we report on a new basal ornithuromorph bird, Juehuaornis zhangi gen et sp. nov.,based on a nearly complete and articulated subadult skeleton from the Lower Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation in Lingyuan of western Liaoning, China. It displays ornithomorph synapomorphies, such as a synsacrum composed of 12 sacral vertebrae, a short pygostyle , long and curved scapula, U-shaped furcula without a hypocleidum, coracoid with a developed procoracoid process and a concaved lateral margin,a keel extended along the full length of sternum, major and minor metacarpals fused proximally and distally, and proximal phalanx of digit II expanded caudally. The new specimen is distinguishable from other known ornithuromorphs by some unique features including a long rostrum for approximately 70% the total length of the skull, cranial end of upper jaw hooked, and cranial end of lower jaw straight. The new specimen provides new important morphological information regarding Ornithomorpha, and it represents a new ecotype of this group.

Figure 3. This is a very low rez image of the skull, the best I could wrangle from the original paper.

Figure 3. This is a very low rez image of the skull, the best I could wrangle from the original paper. That’s a hand over the skull. See figure 1. Not sure about the described premaxilla tip described in the paper. Requested high-rez data will replace this if it comes.

In the large reptile tree,
Juehuaornis nests with other small Early Cretaceous tobirds between Longicrusavis and higher toothed birds like Changzuiornis and Yanornis.

References
Wang R-F, Wang Y and Hu Dong-yu 2015. Discovery of a new ornithuromorph genus, Juehuaornis gen. nov. from Lower Cretaceous of western Liaoning, China. Global Geology 34(1):

The coot: ancestral to chickens, sparrows, parrots and giant stink birds

Fulica atra (Linneaus 1758) is the extant coot, a small water bird with large fleshy feet. Here it nests with Chauna, the screamer, but without such a deadly digit zero. The ascending process of the premaxilla spreads laterally beneath a frontal shield, a decoration on the forehead.

Figure 1. The coot (genus: Fulica) is ancestral to the chicken/parrot clade.

Figure 1. The coot (genus: Fulica) is ancestral to the chicken/parrot clade.

Certainly
an underapprciated bird, given the importance of its transitional morphology between basal storks, like the superficially similar trumpeter Psophia, and the clade of screamers + crakes + chickens + sparrows + parrots + the giant stink birds, Dinornis and Gastornis. The smallest of these became good flyers. The rest never did.

Figure 1. More taxa, updated tree, new clade names.

Figure 1. More taxa, updated tree, new clade names.

This clade
had origins in the Early Cretaceous.

References
Linnaeus C 1758. Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata.

wiki/Chauna
wiki/Fulica

Eogranivora has chicken feet and 6 fingers

Higher resolution data
and DGS color overlays reveal that the Early Cretaceous chicken, Eogranivora, has overlooked manual and pedal digits (Fig. 1). Digit zero makes an appearance here. Fusion was much less apparent than traced. Pedal digit 1 was overlooked, despite the tracing of pedal 1.1.

Figure 1. The manus and pes of the Early Cretaceous chicken, Eogranivora. Here digit 0 makes an appearance on the manus along with vestigial digits 4 and 5. On the pes pedal digits 1 (cyan) and 5 (purple) were overlooked. Here DGS reveals them. Overlay changes ever 5 seconds. The process of fusion implied by the drawings is not yet complete under DGS.

Figure 1. The manus and pes of the Early Cretaceous chicken, Eogranivora. Here digit 0 makes an appearance on the manus along with vestigial digits 4 and 5. On the pes pedal digits 1 (cyan) and 5 (purple) were overlooked. Here DGS reveals them. Overlay changes ever 5 seconds. The process of fusion implied by the drawings is not yet complete under DGS.

Earlier we looked at Eogranivora and nested it with Gallus the extant chicken using low-rez data. Here even the skull is updated with plate and counter plate revealing data overlooked by original authors (Figs. 2,3 for those who don’t review updated blog posts).

Figure 1b. Eogranivora skull in situ (plate and counterplate) in higher resolution.

Figure 2. Eogranivora skull in situ (plate and counterplate) in higher resolution.

Figure 1c. Skull of Eogranivora in situ and reconstructed using DGS, replacing a lower resolution attempt. Some details added for the palate here.

Figure 3. Skull of Eogranivora in situ and reconstructed using DGS, replacing a lower resolution attempt. Some details added for the palate here.

Eogranivora edentulata (Zheng et al. 2018; Early Cretaceous, Yixian Fm. Aptian, 125 mya; STM35-3) was earlier referred to Hongshanornis by (Zheng et al. 2011) who found evidence for an avian crop, along with feathers, gastroliths and seeds in the present specimen. Distinct from the holotype of HongshanornisEogranivora is toothless. This specimen is a direct link from the Early Cretaceous to the present day. With larger wings and a smaller body Eogranivora would have been a better flyer than extant chickens.

Figure 2. Gallus, the chicken, nests as a sister to the Early Cretaceous, Eogranivora, also a seed-eater.

Figure 4.. Gallus, the chicken, nests as a sister to the Early Cretaceous, Eogranivora, also a seed-eater. Note the length of the robust scapula.

With robust ribs
and a scapula extending back to the pelvis, Gallus, the chicken stands out from most birds. Eogranivora, if I have this right, also has robust ribs and an extended scapula (Fig. 5). Preservation is a funny thing when plates are split from counter plates. Sometimes we see the bone. Sometimes we see an impression of bone. Sometimes the bone splits down the middle and we see the inside of the bone. Here the parts of the scapula appear to be below and above the ribs, hence, my trepidation.

Figure 5. The crop, gizzard, sternum and scapulae of Eogranivora with DGS color overlays. Some guesswork here.

Figure 5. The crop, gizzard, sternum and scapulae? of Eogranivora with DGS color overlays. Some guesswork here. Some vertical bones apparently cross over and under the horizontal ribs. 

References
Zheng X, O’Connor JK, Wang X, Wang Y and Zhou Z 2018. Reinterpretation of a previously described Jehol bird clarifies early trophic evolution in the Ornithuromorpha. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 285: 20172494
Zheng X-T, Martin LD, Zhou Z-H, Burnham DA, Zhang F-C and Miao D 2011. Fossil evidence of avian crops from the Early Cretaceous of China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. USA 108: 15 904–907

wiki/Eogranivora
wiki/Gallus

Reconstructing Changchengornis

Changchengornis hengdaoziensis
(Ji et al. 1999, Chiappe et al. 1999; GMV-2129) is an Early Cretaceous relative of Zhongornis and Confuciusornis preserved as a plate and counter plate, flattened, but complete and articulated… with feathers and skin outlines (Figs. 1, 2). 

Figure 1. Changchengornis in situ, plate, counterplate, original drawing and new DGS tracing.

Figure 1. Changchengornis in situ, plate, counterplate, original drawing and new DGS tracing.

Missing from the original tracing
are the postorbital bones, the pubis, some tiny teeth and a series of caudal vertebrae (not a pygostyle) as in other confuciusornithiformes (Fig. 4).

Figure 2. Changchengornis original tracings, counterplate flipped to match plate. DGS found a few more bones than shown here.

Figure 2. Changchengornis original tracings, counterplate flipped to match plate. DGS found a few more bones than shown here.

Here it is reconstructed (Fig. 3).

Figure 2. Changchenornis reconstructed.

Figure 3. Changchenornis reconstructed using DGS.

So far (as I know…)
Changchengornis is the only confuciusornithiform (Fig. 4) with a convex rostrum. It also has the shortest tail. At present this clade only extends from the Late Jurassic to the Early Cretaceous.

Figure 4. Confuciusornithiformes to scale. Note the lack of a pygostyle in the majority of taxa.

Figure 4. Confuciusornithiformes to scale. Note the lack of a pygostyle in these taxa.

References
Ji Q, Chiappe L and Ji S 1999. A new Late Mesozoic confuciusornithid bird from China. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 19(1): 1–7.
Chiappe LM, Ji S-A, J Q, Norell MA 1999. Anatomy and systematics of the Confuciusornithidae (Theropoda:Aves) from the Late Mesozoic of northeastern China. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 242: 89pp. PDF

wiki/Changchengornis

Birds in the LRT with suggested nomenclature

Updated February 4, 2018 with new taxa and new provisional clade names.

Figure 1. More taxa, updated tree, new clade names.

Figure 1. More taxa, updated tree, new clade names.

Just a moment to update
the bird subset of the large reptile tree (LRT, 1157 taxa). Given the present taxon list, this is the order they fall into using the generalized characters used throughout the LRT. The names applied here are used in traditional studies, but perhaps not following previous definitions. If this cladogram can be validated by other morphological studies, then perhaps these clade names can retain their usefulness.

Does anyone see
in this list two ‘related’ taxa that do not resemble one another more so than any other taxon? If so, that needs to be noted and repaired.

I was looking for a long-legged crow…

But I only found a grackle.

Then I started looking
for a long-legged crow/grackle for the large reptile tree (LRT, 1151 taxa), because basal Euornithes are all long-legged, terrestrial birds. Grackles/crows were short-legged exceptions that needed a long-legged ancestor.

Figure 1. Oedicnemus longirostris (= Burhinus oedicnemus?) the long-sough long-legged crow/grackle, the Eurasian stone curlew or thick knee.

Figure 1. Oedicnemus longirostris (= Burhinus oedicnemus?) the long-sough long-legged crow/grackle, the Eurasian stone curlew or thick knee.

I finally found one.
It’s the Eurasian stone curlew (Burhinus oedicnemius) aka? thick-knee (maybe previously known as: Oedicnemius longirostris, Fig. 1).

Oedicnemus longirostris (aka?: Burhinus oedicnemus Linneaus 1758) is the extant Eurasian stone curlew or thick-knee. Length: up to 46cm. Large yellow bulging eyes are adaptations to nocturnal hunting of small tetrapods and invertebrates. Long legs and a terrestrial lifestyle are primitive for all neognath, euornithine birds. This taxon is derived from a sister to Ciconia and basal to grackles, like Quiscalus (below) as well as the Aramus and Threskiornis clades. Note the tiny pedal digit 1.

I was also looking for a megapode.
Any megapode. Could not find skeletal material on the Internet. The good folks at the Smithsonian sent me some bits and pieces. That solves yet another phylogenetic problem.

References
Linnaeus C 1758. Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata.

wiki/Common_grackle
wiki/Corvus
wiki/Blue_jay
wiki/Eurasian_stone-curlew