An ornithurine bird coracoid from the Late Cretaceous of Alberta, Canada

Publication: Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences
25 June 2020

Abstract

The Cretaceous birds of Alberta are poorly known, as skeletal elements are rare and typically consist of fragmentary postcranial remains. A partial avian coracoid from the upper Campanian Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta, Canada, can be referred to the Ornithurae, and is referred to here as Ornithurine G (cf. Cimolopteryx). Its structure is similar to previously described ornithurine coracoids from Alberta and other localities in North America, particularly those belonging to the genus Cimolopteryx. A comparison of these elements indicates that the new coracoid is distinct; however, its preservation prevents complete diagnosis. As other Cimolopteryx are Maastrichtian in age, Ornithurine G (cf. Cimolopteryx) also represents the earliest occurrence of a Cimolopteryx-like anatomy. A pneumatized coracoid is a diagnostic trait of Neornithes, identified by the presence of a pneumatic foramen. Ornithurine G (cf. Cimolopteryx) does not preserve this feature. CT and micro-CT scans of both pneumatic and apneumatic coracoids of modern birds show similar internal structures to Ornithurine G (cf. Cimolopteryx), indicating that pneumaticity of the coracoid cannot be determined in the absence of an external pneumatic foramen. A comparison between members of Cimolopterygidae, including Cimolopteryx and Lamarqueavis, raises questions about the assignment of Lamarqueavis to the Cimolopterygidae, and the validity of this family as a whole.

Résumé

Les oiseaux du Crétacé de l’Alberta demeurent méconnus, leurs éléments squelettiques étant rares et consistant typiquement en des restes postcrâniens fragmentaires. Un coracoïde aviaire partiel de la Formation campanienne de Dinosaur Park en Alberta (Canada) peut être affecté aux ornithurés et est affecté dans le présent article à Ornithurine G (cf. Cimolopteryx). Sa structure est semblable à celles de coracoïdes d’ornithurinés décrits antérieurement de l’Alberta et d’autres localités en Amérique du Nord, particulièrement ceux du genre Cimolopteryx. Une comparaison de ces éléments indique que le nouveau coracoïde est différent, bien qu’un diagnostic complet ne puisse être établi en raison de son état de préservation. Comme les autres Cimolopteryx sont d’âge maastrichtien, Ornithurine G (cf. Cimolopteryx) représente également l’existence recensée la plus ancienne d’une anatomie de type Cimolopteryx. Un coracoïde pneumatisé constitue un caractère diagnostique des Néornithes, identifié par la présence d’un foramen pneumatique. Ornithurine G (cf. Cimolopteryx) ne préserve pas cet élément. Des tomodensitogrammes et de microtommodensitogrammes de coracoïdes pneumatiques et apneumatiques d’oiseaux modernes montrent des structures internes semblables à celles d’Ornithurine G (cf. Cimolopteryx), ce qui indique que la pneumaticité du coracoïde ne peut être déterminée en l’absence d’un foramen pneumatique externe. Une comparaison de membres des cimoloptérygidés, incluant Cimolopteryx et Lamarqueavis, soulève des questions sur l’affectation de Lamarqueavis aux cimoloptérygidés et sur la validité de cette famille dans son ensemble. [Traduit par la Rédaction]

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Information & Authors

Information

Published In

cover image Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences
Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences
Volume 58Number 2February 2021
Pages: 134 - 140

History

Received: 25 October 2019
Accepted: 12 June 2020
Published online: 25 June 2020

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Key Words

  1. Ornithurae
  2. Ornithurine
  3. Neornithes
  4. Campanian
  5. Cimolopteryx
  6. Cimolopterygidae

Mots-clés

  1. ornithurés
  2. ornithurinés
  3. néornithes
  4. Campanien
  5. Cimolopteryx
  6. cimoloptérygidés

Authors

Affiliations

Sydney R. Mohr smohr@ualberta.ca
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada.
John H. Acorn
Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2H1, Canada.
Gregory F. Funston*
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada.
Philip J. Currie
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada.

Notes

*
Present address: School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH9 3FE, United Kingdom.
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