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6239Juncitarsus - A Bird of the Eocene

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  • Neal Robbins
    Nov 12, 2013
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          This link has a fossil photo of Juncitarsus merkeli .
       
          Juncitarsus was a genus of birds that lived during the Eocene. The systematic paleontology of Juncitarsus is:
       
      Aves Linnaeus 1758
      [Note - Juncitarsus is considered to be a sister group of the clade Phoenicopteriformes + Podicipediformes.]
      Juncitarsidae
      Juncitarsus Olson and Feduccia 1980
      Juncitarsus gracilimus Olson and Feduccia 1980
      J. merkeli Peters 1987
       
          The holotype (USNM 244318) of Juncitarsus gracilimus is a left tarsometatarsus. This fossil was found in the Bridger Formation at the low buttes locality (Northeast of Twin Buttes) in Sweetwater County. It dates to a Middle Eocene interval of 48.6 - 37.2 million years ago. [Note - The source of this information is The Paleobiology Database.]
          The holotype (SMF 295) is a skeleton. It was found in the Messel Pit in Germany. This fossil specimen is dated to the MP 11 (48.6 - 40.4 million years ago) interval of the Eocene. [Note - The source of this information is an article by Michael Morlo, Stephan Schaal, Gerald Mayr, and Christina Seiffert. The title is An annotated taxonomic list of the Middle Eocene (MP 11) Vertebrata of Messel. It was published in 2004 in Cour. Forsch.-Inst. Senckenberg 252, 95-108.]
          Gerald Mayr wrote an article titled The Eocene Juncitarsus - its phylogenetic position and significance for the evolution and higher-level affinities of flamingos and grebes. It was published in 2013 in Comptes Rendus Palevol. This quote from the abstract says:
       
      The Early Eocene Juncitarsus was described as one of the earliest fossil flamingos, and played a critical role in the hypothesis of a charadriiform origin of Phoenicopteriformes. It has been noted that phoenicopteriform affinities of Juncitarsus conflict with the recently proposed sister group relationship between flamingos and the morphologically very divergent grebes (Podicipediformes), but a detailed assessment of the evolutionary significance of Juncitarsus in light of this new hypothesis has not yet been performed. Here, the affinities of Juncitarsus are reviewed and its position as sister group of the clade (Phoenicopteriformes + Podicipediformes) is affirmed. The osteology of Juncitarsus suggests that swimming adaptations evolved in the stem lineage of this latter clade after the divergence of Juncitarsus. Charadriiformes remain among the candidates for the closest extant relatives of flamingos and grebes, but more data are needed for well-supported phylogenetic hypotheses.
       
          This link has the abstract and a set of fossil photos.
       
          Neal Robbins