Mirarce

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Mirarce
Temporal range: Campanian, 76–74.1 Ma
Mirarce eatoni.jpg
Reconstruction by Scott Hartman, showing known material in white
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Enantiornithes
Family: Avisauridae
Genus: Mirarce
Atterholt et al., 2018
Species:
M. eatoni
Binomial name
Mirarce eatoni
Atterholt et al., 2018

Mirarce (meaning "wonderful winged messenger") is a genus of enantornithe bird from the Late Cretaceous of Utah. It contains a single species, M. eatoni.[1][2] It was similar in size to modern turkeys.

Discovery

In 1992, in Utah (USA), a paleontologist Howard Hutchison discovered fossilized remains of an enantornithe bird. For a long time they have not been described and figured under the unofficial name of "Kaiparowits enantornithe. The holotype UCMP 139500 is well preserved in three dimensions. It consists of a partial postcranial skeleton without a skull , including 3 cervical , 2 thoracic vertebrae, a pygostyle , a furcula, the xiphoid process of the sternum , a fragment of the left shoulder blade and a coracoid ,the humerus , ulna, and radius with fragments of the hand , several fused fragments of the pelvic girdle, and some elements of the hind limbs. It is the most complete enantornithe bird found in North America.

In 2018, the sample was named and described by a group of paleontologists led by Jesse Atterholt. The generic name is made up of lat.  mirus , beautiful - "for an impressive level of preservation and morphological details," with the addition of the name of the Arch ( Ἄρκη \ Arkē ), the winged messenger of the Titans of Greek mythology - "for evidence pointing to an improved vehicle of this kind." The species name eatoni is given in honor of Jeffrey Eaton in recognition of the decades of scientific work done on the Kaiparowitz formation and the study of its fossil specimens.

Description

Mirarce eatoni was a large turkey-sized bird. Skeletal morphology indicates that at the time of death, the individual was adult. All the surviving elements of the bones show complete fusion.

The bones of the forelimbs deserve special attention. The humerus of the bird is short and strong. The left ulna was preserved as a mineral cast of the internal cavity with several small fragments of fossilized bone surface. Two folded spots preserved on the posterior edge of the bone body are interpreted as quill knobs. These elongated folds are located along the length of the bone. Despite the fact that bone fragments do not allow measuring the size of each tubercle, determining the distance between them or estimating the number of secondary feathers, their very presence on the fossil is a very significant fact, as this is the first time the structure has been found in enantornithes.

Phylogeny

Mirace was found to be a member of Avisauridae, close to Avisaurus itself.

References

  1. ^ Atterholt, J., Hutchison, J.H., O'Connor, J.K (2018) "The most complete enantiornithine from North America and a phylogenetic analysis of the Avisauridae" PeerJ November 13, 2018
  2. ^ Science News, Mirarce eatoni: Newly-Discovered Cretaceous Bird Lived Among Dinosaurs, Was Strong Flier, November 13, 2018.


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