Fw: [naturalhistorygroup] Palaeornithology of Loons
- - Loons have been on Earth for quite a while. These birds are of
the order called Gaviiformes. The earliest fossil species that has
been positively identified as a loon is Colymboides anglicus.
Fossilized remains of it have been found in Britain. They date to the
Eocene period (54-38 million years ago).
Another ancient loon species is Colymboides minutus. It lived
during the Miocene period (26-7 million years ago). Fossils of it
dating to the early Miocene have been found in France and the Czech
Other fossils species of loons include:
Colymboides milne (officially named by Edwards in 1867). This species
is dated to these periods:
Upper Miocene of Western Europe
Miocene of Europe
Late Pliocene of North America
Gavia Forster. It dates to these periods:
Late Miocene of Europe and North America
Pliocene of Europe and North America
Recent of Northern Europe and North America
It is possible that loons may have existed as far back as the
Cretaceous period. An Upper Cretaceous avian fossil was found in the
Lopez de Bertodano Formation of Seymour Island, Antarctica. It has
been speculated that the fossil is that of a loon. The paleontologist
Chatterjee wrote a paper on it in 1997. He did not formally describe
the fossil or officially designate it as being a loon. The fossilized
remains are fragmentary and most paleontologists believe that it has
not been conclusively proven to be a loon fossil.
Another questionable fossil is that of the species Neogaeornis
wetzli. It dates to the Upper Cretaceous and was found in Chile.
Lanbrecht officially named the species in 1929. The fossil consists of
a scrap of tarsometatarsus. It has been interpreted in several ways.
These are the interpretations of the fossil:
(1) Lambert (1929) and Olson (1992) interpreted it as a loon.
(2) Martin & Tate (1976) and Fedducia (1996, 1999) stated the theory
that it was a Hesperornithiforme.
(3) Hope (2002) interpreted it as a neornithidae incertae sedis.
P.S. The taxonomy of loons is:
There are five species. They include:
Gavia immer (common loon)
G. pacifica (Pacific loon)
G. arctica (Arctic loon)
G. adamsii (yellow-billed loon)
G. stellata (red-throated loon)
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