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A lithornithid (Aves: Palaeognathae) from the Paleocene (Tiffanian) of southern California

  • Author(s): Stidham, Thomas A.;
  • Lofgren, Don;
  • Farke, Andrew A.;
  • Paik, Michael;
  • Choi, Rachel
  • et al.

The proximal end of a bird humerus recovered from the Paleocene Goler Formation of southern California is the oldest Cenozoic record of this clade from the west coast of North America. The fossil is characterized by a relatively large, dorsally-positioned head of the humerus and a subcircular opening to the pneumotricipital fossa, consistent with the Lithornithidae among known North American Paleocene birds, and is similar in size to Lithornis celetius. This specimen from the Tiffanian NALMA extends the known geographic range of lithornithids outside of the Rocky Mountains region in the United States. The inferred coastal depositional environment of the Goler Formation is consistent with a broad ecological niche of lithornithids. The age and geographic distribution of lithornithids in North America and Europe suggests these birds dispersed from North America to Europe in the Paleocene or by the early Eocene. During the Paleogene the intercontinental dispersal of lithornithids likely occurred alongside other known bird and mammalian movements that were facilitated by climatic and sea level changes.

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