|Holotype of Chiappeavis magnapremaxillo STM 29-11 (after O'Connor et al., 2015).|
Several characters were listed as supposedly diagnostic. The premaxilla was said to have a larger body and convex ventral margin, but the convex element has far too long of a ventral margin to be a premaxilla, so is more likely an incomplete maxilla with the base of the ascending process. The actual right premaxilla is then just the small anterodorsal portion right below the partially preserved left premaxilla, and has no visible ventral margin.
The posterodorsal premaxillary process was claimed to be longer than other pengornithids, almost reaching the frontals. Yet this bone is highly abraded just posterior to figure 2A's 'l pm' label, so that this posterior portion could easily belong to the right nasal instead. This is bolstered by the fact it's the same width as the left nasal and that the right nasal is otherwise missing. These cranial reinterpretations also make far more sense as they match the morphology and preservation of other pengornithids, which would be expected as the postcrania are nearly identical.
The synsacrum has eight vertebrae (as in IVPP V18632; Parapengornis' is only partly preserved), while the authors claim Pengornis' holotype has seven. Yet the description of the latter says only that seven are visible, but that the anterior end is covered, and indeed there could easily be another one beneath the ilium. STM 29-15 (a Jiufotang pengornithid briefly described by O'Connor et al., 2015a) only has seven but is obviously younger based on its unfused sterna.
The "median trabeculae" of Chiappeavis are said to have concave lateral margins, but no such structure exists,
|Sternum of Parapengornis eurycaudatus holotype IVPP V18687 showing |
The posteromedian angle of the sternum is said to be narrow, but while its 53 degree angle is a bit less than IVPP V18632's (at 68) or STM 29-15's (at 66), Parapengornis' holotype could have an identical angle if complete, and again Pengornis' holotype doesn't preserve the element.
Finally, the authors claim the proximal articular surface of the tibia is laterodistally inclined, but this is only true of the left tibia, with the right tibia having a right angle between the surface and the long axis of the bone. Furthermore, Pengornis' holotype and IVPP V18632 both have inclined surfaces, though Parapengornis' holotype lacks them. Given the variation in Chiappeavis' holotype, the variation is likely due to perspective or taphonomy.
Besides the characters listed in the diagnosis, O'Connor et al. note the short anterior cervicals are like the Parapengornis holotype but unlike Pengornis' holotype. As the latter is larger than the others, this may support ontogenetic cervical elongation.
They also correctly note the long pygostyle is like Pengornis' holotype, but unlike IVPP V18632 or Parapengornis' holotype.
D- low interclavicular angle.
E- metatarsal I short.
F- long anterior cervical vertebrae.
G- long pygostyle.
H- long posterodorsal lacrimal process.
I- laterally concave
J- narrow posteromedian sternal angle.
Note the lack of a pattern unrelated to size. Indeed, all but E, F and I correlate with size, and two of those conflict with
References- Zhou, Clarke and Zhang, 2008. Insight into diversity, body size and morphological evolution from the largest Early Cretaceous enantiornithine bird. Journal of Anatomy. 212, 565-577.
O'Connor and Chiappe, 2011. A revision of enantiornithine (Aves: Ornithothoraces) skull morphology. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 9(1), 135-157.
Hu, Zhou and O'Connor, 2014. A subadult specimen of Pengornis and character evolution in Enantiornithes. Vertebrata PalAsiatica. 52(1), 77-97.
Hu, O'Connor and Zhou, 2015a. A new species of Pengornithidae (Aves: Enantiornithes) from the Lower Cretaceous of China suggests a specialized scansorial habitat previously unknown in early birds. PLoS ONE. 10(6), e0126791.
O'Connor, Wang, Zheng, Hu, Zhang and Zhou, 2015b. An enantiornithine with a fan-shaped tail, and the evolution of the rectricial complex in early birds. Current Biology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.11.036
O'Connor, Zheng, Sullivan, Chuong, Wang, Li, Wang, Zhang and Zhou, 2015a. Evolution and functional significance of derived sternal ossification patterns in ornithothoracine birds. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 28(8), 1550-1567.