Two new primitive birds

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Jul 27 19:18:30 CDT 2002

Dear All,
     Before delving too deeply into the molluscan phylogeny problem this
weekend, I wanted to quickly update my classification of early AVES.  Two
new Early Cretaceous birds from China were announced this past week.
Jeholornis was officially named and described in this week's issue of Nature
(BTW, can any of you botanists figure out what kind of seeds were found in
its abdominal area---rumored to be ginkgo-like, but the authors called them
      The second bird is "Shenzhouraptor", a photograph and vague
description posted on the internet earlier this week (but probably not yet
"officially" described and named in print, so I am placing the name in
quotes).  These two forms are apparently very closely related to each other
and rather close to Archaeopteryx as well.  Although there are similarities
to Rahonavis, I am presently placing the two new bird genera on the other
side of Archaeopteryx in a trichotomy with Order Yandangornithiformes.  It
would not surprise me if they end up within that order.
     I am also adding two early mononykiform taxa, Rapator (the first
Australian member of the clade) and "E." gautieri (the first African member
of the clade according to a recent analysis by Mickey Mortimer which is
available in the DML archives).  I agree with his assessment that
"Elaphrosaurus" gautieri is a mononykiform bird and not a true Elaphrosaurus
(which are ceratosaurs or primitive coelurosaurs).  Whether Rapator is more
(or less) primitive than "E." gautieri is unclear.  Anyway, here's what my
classification looks like with the four new additions.

CLASS AVES (sensu Kinman, 2002)

   1 Troodontiformes
           1 Plesion Sinornithoides
           A Plesion Byronosaurus
           A Troodontidae
   ? Plesion Bagaraatan
   2 Plesion Sinovenator
   3 Archaeopterygiformes%
           1  Dromaeosauridae
           B  Utahraptoridae
           2  Pl. Pyroraptor
           3  Pl. Bambiraptor
           B  Velociraptoridae
           4  Pl. Sinornithosaurus
           ?  Pl. Protarchaeopteryx
           5  Pl. Microraptor
           ?  Pl. Unenlagia
           6  Pl. Rahonavis
           7  Archaeopterygidae
           8  {{expanded Metornithes}}
  _1_ Plesion Jeholornis
   A  Pl. "Shenzhouraptor"
   A  Yandangornithiformes
   2  Pl. Sapeornis
   3  Mononykiformes Kinman, 1994
           1  Pl. "E." gautieri
           ?  Pl. Rapator
           2  Patagonykidae
           3  Parvicursoridae
           4  Mononykidae
   4  Avimimiformes
   5  Pl. Caudipteryx
   B  Pl. Nomingia
   6  Caenagnathiformes
   7     ...  all the other Orders
               of pygostylian birds


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