Reconstruction of Osteodontornis orri, by Jaime Chirinos.

Belongs within: Neognathae.

The Pelagornithidae, false-toothed birds, were a lineage of large to gigantic (wingspans in excess of five metres) marine birds found from the late Palaeocene to the latest Pliocene. The vernacular name of the group refers to the distinctive presence of hollow bony projections along the edges of the bill. Their skeletons were very lightly built and have often been poorly preserved in the fossil record; consequently, the taxonomy of the group has historically been confused and many species were previously classified in distinct families.

Characters (from Mayr 2011): Pseudoteeth present; external narial openings greatly reduced or absent; mandible of adult birds with synovial intraramal joint between os spleniale and os angulare formed by internal ossification associated with Meckel’s cartilage; mandible without ossified symphysis mandibulae, with marked neurovascular furrow along lateral surfaces; extremitas sternalis of coracoid with processus lateralis greatly elongated; humerus with crista deltopectoralis not cranially deflected.

<==Pelagornithidae [Cyphornithidae, Dasornithidae, Odontopteryges, Odontopterygiformes, Pelagornithinae, Pseudodontornithidae]
    |--Osteodontornis orriFP64
    |--Palaeochenoides miocaenus Shufeldt 1916M09
    |--Guguschia nailiae Aslanova & Burchak-Abramovich 1968M09
    |--Caspiodontornis kobystanicus Aslanova & Burchak-Abramovich 1982M09
    |--Zheroia kurochkini Nessov 1988M09
    |--Gigantornis eaglesomei Andrews 1916M09
    |--Tympanonesiotes wetmorei Hopson 1964M09
    |--Cyphornis Cope 1894M02
    |    `--C. magnusFP64
    |--Macrodontopteryx Harrison & Walker 1976M02
    |    `--*M. oweni Harrison & Walker 1976M02
    |--Neodontornis Harrison & Walker 1976CC10
    |    `--*N. stirtoni (Howard & Warter 1969) [=Pseudodontornis stirtoni]CC10
    |--Pelagornis Lartet 1857CC10
    |    |--*P. miocaenus Lartet 1857CC10 [incl. P. delfortrii Lambrecht 1933 (n. n.)M02]
    |    `--P. chilensisM11
    |--Dasornis Owen 1870M02 (see below for synonymy)
    |    |--D. emuinus (Bowerbank 1854)M09 (see below for synonymy)
    |    `--‘Neptuniavis’ minor Harrison & Walker 1977M02
    |--Odontopteryx Owen 1873 [Odontopterygidae]M02
    |    |--*O. toliapica Owen 1873M02
    |    `--O. tschulensis Aver’janov et al. 1991M02
    `--Pseudodontornis Lambrecht 1930M02
         |--*P. longirostris (Spulski 1910) [=Odontopteryx longirostris]M02
         |--P. tenuirostris Harrison 1985M09
         `--P. tshulensis Averianov et al. 1991M09

Dasornis Owen 1870M02 [incl. Argillornis Owen 1878M02, Megalornis Seeley 1866 nec Gray 1841 nec Owen 1843M02, Neptuniavis Harrison & Walker 1977MPR02]

Dasornis emuinus (Bowerbank 1854)M09 [=Lithornis emuinusM02, Argillornis emuinusM02, *Megalornis emuianusM02; incl. *D. londinensis Owen 1870M02, M09, D. londiniensisM02, Pseudodontornis longidentata Harrison & Walker 1976M09, *Argillornis longipennis Owen 1878M02, M09, *Neptuniavis miranda Harrison & Walker 1977M02, M09]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

[FP64] Fisher, J., & R. T. Peterson. 1964. The World of Birds: A comprehensive guide to general ornithology. Macdonald: London.

[M09] Mayr, G. 2009. Paleogene Fossil Birds. Springer.

[M11] Mayr, G. 2011. Cenozoic mystery birds—on the phylogenetic affinities of the bony-toothed birds (Pelagornithidae). Zoologica Scripta 40: 448–467.

[MPR02] Mayr, G., D. S. Peters & S. Rietschel. 2002. Petrel-like birds with a peculiar foot morphology from the Oligocene of Germany and Belgium (Aves: Procellariiformes). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 22 (3): 667–676.

[M02] Mlíkovský, J. 2002. Cenozoic Birds of the World. Part 1: Europe. Ninox Press: Praha.

One comment

  1. Always one of my favorite prehistoric birds. Nothing really like them today including sailbirds. I think the older, extinct birds were much more interesting. The artwork is well done and the bird has similar coloring to other illustrations of this grand, extinct bird. Wish I could see one in the flesh!

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