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PLoS One. 2015 Nov 18;10(11):e0141690. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0141690. eCollection 2015.

Identification of a New Hesperornithiform from the Cretaceous Niobrara Chalk and Implications for Ecologic Diversity among Early Diving Birds.

Author information

1
The Dinosaur Institute, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.

Abstract

The Smoky Hill Member of the Niobrara Chalk in Kansas (USA) has yielded the remains of numerous members of the Hesperornithiformes, toothed diving birds from the late Early to Late Cretaceous. This study presents a new taxon of hesperornithiform from the Smoky Hill Member, Fumicollis hoffmani, the holotype of which is among the more complete hesperornithiform skeletons. Fumicollis has a unique combination of primitive (e.g. proximal and distal ends of femur not expanded, elongate pre-acetabular ilium, small and pyramidal patella) and derived (e.g. dorsal ridge on metatarsal IV, plantarly-projected curve in the distal shaft of phalanx III:1) hesperornithiform characters, suggesting it was more specialized than small hesperornithiforms like Baptornis advenus but not as highly derived as the larger Hesperornis regalis. The identification of Fumicollis highlights once again the significant diversity of hesperornithiforms that existed in the Late Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway. This diversity points to the existence of a complex ecosystem, perhaps with a high degree of niche partitioning, as indicated by the varying degrees of diving specializations among these birds.

PMID:
26580402
PMCID:
PMC4651437
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0141690
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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