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Abstract

Skeletal remains of penguins from the Eocene La Meseta Formation (Seymour Island, Antarctica) constitute the only extensive fossil record of Antarctic Sphenisciformes. No articulated skeletons are known, and almost all fossils occur as single isolated elements. Most of the named species are based on tarsometatarsi (for which the taxonomy was revised in 2002). Here, 694 bones (from the Polish collection) other than tarsometatarsi are reviewed, and allocated to species. They confirm previous conclusions and suggest that ten species grouped in six genera are a minimal reliable estimate of the Eocene Antarctic penguin diversity. The species are: Anthropornis grandis, A. nordenskjoeldi, Archaeospheniscus wimani, Delphinornis arctowskii, D. gracilis, D. larseni, Marambiornis exilis, Mesetaornis polaris, Palaeeudyptes gunnari and P. klekowskii. Moreover, diagnoses of four genera (Anthropornis, Archaeospheniscus, Delphinornis and Palaeeudyptes) and two species (P. gunnari and P. klekowskii) are supplemented with additional, non-tarsometatarsal features. Four species of the smallest penguins from the La Meseta Formation (D. arctowskii, D. gracilis, M. exilis and M. polaris) seem to be the youngest taxa within the studied assemblage - their remains come exclusively from the uppermost unit of the formation. All ten recognized species may have co-existed in the Antarctic Peninsula region during the Late Eocene epoch.
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Abstract

Penguin bones from the La Meseta Formation (Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula) are the only record of Eocene Antarctic Sphenisciformes. Being an abundant component of the youngest unit of the formation (Telm7), they are not so common in earlier strata. Here, I present the oldest penguin remains from the La Meseta Formation (Telm1-Telm2), often bearing close resemblance to their counterparts from younger units. Addressing the recent findings in fossil penguin systematics, I suggest there is too weak a basis for erecting new Eocene Antarctic taxa based on non-tarsometatarsal elements of penguin skeletons, and considering Oligocene species part of the studied assemblage. Finally, I conclude if the common ancestor of extant Sphenisciformes lived in the Eocene Antarctic (as suggested recently), penguins referred to Delphinornis seem to be prime candidates to that position.
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Abstract

Eocene penguin remains from Seymour Island (Antarctica) are so far the oldest−known record of extinct Sphenisciformes. Rich Argentineand Polish collections of penguin bones from the La Meseta Formation are taxonomically revised on tarsometatarsal morphology. Two genera and four species are erected: Mesetaornis polarisgen. et sp. n., Marambiornis exilisgen. et sp. n., Delphinornis arctowskiisp. n. and D. gracilissp. n. Moreover, the diagnoses of already described species: Anthropornis nordenskjoeldi, A. grandis, Palaeeudyptes klekowskii, P. gunnari, Archaeospheniscus wimani and Delphinornis larseniare revised as well. Gradual cooling of climate, changes of environment andtrophic relationships, that lasted several millions years, were most probably responsible forthe intense speciation and taxonomic diversification of the Middle–Late Eocene La Meseta penguins.
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