Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Priscavolucris- the bird that is a fish

One poorly known ex-dinosaur is the supposed Jurassic bird Priscavolucris.

Lonchidion Estes, 1964
?= Priscavolucris Gomez Pallerola, 1979
L? montsechi (Gomez Pallerola, 1979) new combination
= Priscavolucris montsechi Gomez Pallerola, 1979
= Lissodus palustris Gomez Pallerola, 1992
= Lissodus montsechi (Gomez Pallerola, 1979) Duffin, 2001
Late Berriasian-Early Barremian, Early Cretaceous
La Pedrera de Rubies Lithographic Limestones, Spain
Holotype- (Gomez Pallerola coll.) (~350 mm) cranium (33 mm), Meckel cartilage, ceratobranchial, teeth, neural arches, scapulocoracoids (55 mm), propterygia, metapterygia, mesopterygia, radials, pectoral fins, scales

Priscavolucris holotype with labels from Gomez Pallerola (1979).

Comments- Gomez Pallerola (1979) originally identified this as the skull, forelimbs and feathers of a Jurassic bird, naming it Priscavolucris montsechi (misspelled Priscavulucris in the figure captions). He later (1982) briefly reidentified it as a shark (cf. Selechia), which was apparent from the original photos. The skull was correctly identified, but the supposed humerus is a scapulocoracoid, the supposed radius and ulna are the basal fin elements, the wing itself is the pectoral fin with the feathers being its rays. The supposed metatarsus and pedal digits are a ceratobranchial and perhaps parts of adjacent gill arch elements (hypobranchial, epibranchial), while the supposed ribs are probably neural arches. Gomez Pallerola later (1985, 1988) referred it to the genus Lonchidion. In 1992 he described it in detail as a new species- Lissodus palustris, as Lissodus had been recently synonymized with Lonchidion. Duffin (2001) noted that while it was obviously a shark, the correct species name is still montsechi. This made the correct name for the taxon Lissodus montsechi. Rees and Underwood (2002) revised Lissodus and kept it separate from Lonchidion. They were unable to examine L. montsechi, but felt it was possibly referrable to Lonchidion and could not be distinguished from the contemporary Lonchidion microselachos using information in the literature. However, while the name they used (Lissodus palustris) would be a junior synonym of L. microselachos if the taxa were identical, the species montsechi has priority over microselachos (from Estes and Sanchiz, 1982) if they are found to be synonyms. Neither the combination Lonchidion palustris nor the more correct L. montsechi have been published to my knowledge, though if correctly referred to the genus, this would be the only species known from skeletons.

References- Estes, 1964. Fossil vertebrates from the Late Cretaceous Lance Formation, eastern Wyoming. University of California Publications in Geological Sciences. 49, 1-180.

Gomez Pallerola, 1979. Un ave y otras especies fosiles nuevas de la biofacies de Santa Maria de Meya (Lerida). Boletin Geologico y Minero. 90(4), 5-18.

Estes and Sanchiz, 1982. Early Cretaceous lower vertebrates from Galve (Teurel), Spain. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 2(1), 21-39.

Gomez Pallerola, 1982. Nuevas aportaciones a la ictiofauna y a la flora del Neocomiense del Montsech de Rubies (Lerida). Boletin Geologico y Minero. 93(3), 199-213.

Gomez Pallerola, 1985. Nuevos hybodontidos del Cretacico Inferior de Santa Maria de Meya (Lerida). Boletin Geologico y Minero. 96(4), 372-380.

Gomez Pallerola, 1988. Nota sobre los peces elasmobranquios de las calizas litograficas del Cretacico Inferior del Montsec (Lerida). Boletin Geologico y Minero. 99(5), 748-756.

Gomez Pallerola, 1992. Nota sobre los tiburones hybodontos de las calizas litograficas del Cretacico Inferior del Montsec (Lerida). Boletin Geologico y Minero. 103(5), 783-813.

Duffin, 2001. Synopsis of the selachian genus Lissodus Brough, 1935. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Abhandlungen. 221(2), 145-218.

Rees and Underwood, 2002. The status of the shark genus Lissodus Brough, 1935, and the position of nominal Lissodus species within the Hybodontoidea (Selachii). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 22(3), 471-479.

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