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Temporal range: Early Cretaceous, 120 Ma
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Ornithuromorpha
Clade: Yanornithiformes
Zhou & Zhang, 2001


  • Aberratiodontuiformes Gong et al., 2004

Yanornithiformes is an order of ornithuromorph birds from the early Cretaceous Period of China. All known specimens come from the Yixian Formation and Jiufotang Formation, dating to the early Aptian age, 124.6 to 120 million years ago.

The family Songlingornithidae was first named by Hou in 1997 to contain the type genus, Songlingornis.[1] Clarke et al. (2006) was first to find a close relationship between Songlingornis and the "yanornithids", which had been previously named to contain the similar species Yanornis and Yixianornis. At least one study has found the late Cretaceous Mongolian bird Hollanda to be a member of this group.[2] The family Yanornithidae (now Songlingornithidae) had been placed in its own order containing no other families, named Yanornithiformes, in 2001.[3]

Beginning in 2012, several studies began to find that the hongshanornithids, smaller, more specialized birds from the same time and place as some of the songlingornithids, were more closely related to songlingornithids than to other early birds, making them part of the same clade,[4][5] while some studies continued to find them just outside the yanonrithiform clade.[2]


  1. ^ Hou, (1997). Mesozoic Birds of China. Taiwan Provincial Feng Huang Ku Bird Park. Taiwan: Nan Tou. 228 pp.
  2. ^ a b O’Connor, J. K.; Zhang, Y.; Chiappe, L. M.; Meng, Q.; Quanguo, L.; Di, L. (2013). "A new enantiornithine from the Yixian Formation with the first recognized avian enamel specialization". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 33: 1. doi:10.1080/02724634.2012.719176.
  3. ^ Clarke, Zhou and Zhang, (2006). "Insight into the evolution of avian flight from a new clade of Early Cretaceous ornithurines from China and the morphology of Yixianornis grabaui." Journal of Anatomy, 208: 287-308.
  4. ^ O'Connor, J.K. and Zhou Z. (2012). "A redescription of Chaoyangia beishanensis (Aves) and a comprehensive phylogeny of Mesozoic birds." Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, (advance online publication). doi:10.1080/14772019.2012.690455
  5. ^ Zhou, S.; Zhou, Z.; O'Connor, J. (2013). "A new piscivorous ornithuromorph from the Jehol Biota". Historical Biology: 1. doi:10.1080/08912963.2013.819504.

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