Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Lower Cretaceous Birds

In Australia the known fossils of birds are all fragmentary and are present only in deposits from the Lower Cretaceous. Avian body fossils have been found in a number of Australian deposits - an isolated furcula (wishbone) in the Wonthaggi Formation, and the Griman Creek Formation. The material from Lightning Ridge indicates a gull-like form that was small-bodied and had vertebral morphology that is comparable to Ichthyornis, a toothed ornithomorph that is well-known in North America and western Asia. The other bird indicated from these remains is a larger diving bird, based on tibiotarsi (limb bones) that had shaft dimensions that are similar to those of Baptornis and Hesperornis from the North American Late Cretaceous.

In the Toolebuc Formation other bird fossils from the Mesozoic have been found that include limb bones and vertebral elements that have been attributed to Nanantius eos, a sparrow-sized enantiornithine, a group that were widespread across Gondwana. Enantiornithines are believed to have inhabited woodlands. The authors1 suggest the remains in the Toolebuc Formation are probably from carcasses that were carried out to sea from the nearby coast.

Sources & Further reading

  1. Kear, B.P. & Hamilton-Bruce, R.J., 2011, Dinosaurs in Australia, Mesozoic life from the southern continent, CSIRO Publishing.
Author: M. H. Monroe
Last Updated 16/12/2011



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