Paleognathous Carinate Birds from the Early Tertiary of North America

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Science  11 Dec 1981:
Vol. 214, Issue 4526, pp. 1236-1237
DOI: 10.1126/science.214.4526.1236


Fossils newly discovered in the Paleocene and early Eocene of western North America document some of the oldest birds known from nearly complete skeletons. These were medium-sized carinates with powers of sustained flight but which had a paleognathous palate like that of the flightless ostrich-like birds and the tinamous. The fossils provide additional evidence that the paleognathous palate is probably primitive and therefore should not be cited as a derived character state to define the ostrich-like birds as a monophyletic group.