Diversification in an Early Cretaceous avian genus: evidence from a new species of Confuciusornis from China

Abstract

A new species of Confuciusornis, the oldest known beaked bird, is erected based on a nearly complete fossil from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of western Liaoning, northeast China. C. feducciai is the largest and shows the highest ratio of the forelimb to the hindlimb among all known species of Confuciusornis. The skeletal qualitative autapomorphies, including a V-shaped furcula, a rectangular deltopectoral crest, the absence of an oval foramen at the proximal end of the humerus, the very slender alular digit, a relatively much longer ischium which is two-thirds the length of the pubis, and the morphology of sternum, strongly suggest the new specimen is a valid distinctive taxon. Detailed comparison with other described species provides sound evidence for diversification in the Early Cretaceous avian genus Confuciusornis. Anatomical features suggest an arboreal habit of the new bird.

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Acknowledgments

We are greatly indebted to Nick Longrich, Shu-an Ji and Fucheng Zhang for their careful review of the manuscript and valuable suggestions; Larry D. Martin, Luis M. Chiappe and Zhonghe Zhou for help in the early stages of this work and examining the fossil. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (30670223), and Scientific Research Common Program of Beijing Municipal Commission of Education (KM200710028012).

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Correspondence to Guangmei Zheng.

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Communicated by F. Bairlein.

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Zhang, Z., Gao, C., Meng, Q. et al. Diversification in an Early Cretaceous avian genus: evidence from a new species of Confuciusornis from China. J Ornithol 150, 783–790 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-009-0399-x

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Keywords

  • Confuciusornis feducciai, sp. nov.
  • Early Cretaceous
  • Yixian Formation
  • Taxonomy
  • Diversification