"Palaeornis" cliftii

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"Palaeornis" cliftii
Temporal range: Early Cretaceous, 135 Ma
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Pterosauria
Suborder: Pterodactyloidea
Family: Lonchodectidae
Mantell, 1844
Genus: "Palaeornis"
Mantell, 1844 (preoccupied)
Type species
"Palaeornis" cliftii
Mantell, 1844

"Palaeornis" cliftii is a pterosaur species known from parts of a single humerus (upper arm bone) found in the early Cretaceous (Valanginian) of the upper Tunbridge Wells Sand Formation, England.

Discovery and naming[edit]

"Palaeornis" cliftii was one of the earliest pterosaur discoveries in England and has a long and complicated nomenclatural history.[1] It was originally identified as a prehistoric bird by Gideon Mantell (1837, 1844), but was recognized as a pterosaur by Giebel (1847) and Owen (1846, 1859), who named it Pterodactylus ornis and P. silvestris respectively.[2][3][4] Lydekker (1888) and Hooley (1914) tentatively referred it to Ornithocheirus, although the holotype NHM UK 2353/2353a does not overlap with the holotype of the Ornithocheirus type species.[5][6] Wellnhofer (1978) referred Palaeornis clifti to Ornithocheiridae incertae sedis.[7]

Witton et al. (2009) re-examined the type specimen and realized that "P." clifti is not an ornithocheirid, referring it to Lonchodectidae based on similarities to humeri assigned to Lonchodectes by Hooley (1914).[1] Averianov (2012, 2014) referred the taxon to Azhdarchoidea indeterminate in his re-assessment of Ornithostoma.[8][9]

The name Palaeornis had previously been used for a genus of parakeet (now considered a synonym of Psittacula) by Vigors in 1825.[10] Mantell was apparently aware of this, and in some later publications used the name "Palaeornithis" (Mantell, 1848) as a replacement.[1][11]


  1. ^ a b c Witton, Mark P.; Martill, David M.; Green, Michael (2009). "On pterodactyloid diversity in the British Wealden (Lower Cretaceous) and a reappraisal of "Palaeornis" cliftii Mantell, 1844". Cretaceous Research. 30 (3): 676–686. doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2008.12.004.
  2. ^ Giebel, C. G., 1847, Fauna der Vorwelt, v. 2. Die Vogel und Amphibien der Vorwelt, Leipzig.
  3. ^ Owen, R., 1846, On supposed fossil bones of birds: Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, v. 2, p. 96.
  4. ^ Owen R. (1859) Monograph on the fossil Reptilia of the Cretaceous formations. Supplement no. I. Palaeontographical Society, London, 19 pp.
  5. ^ Lydekker, R., 1888. Catalogue of the Fossil Reptilia and Amphibia in the British Museum (Natural History), Part I. The Orders Ornithosauria. Crocodilia, Dinosauria, Squamata. Rhynchocephalia and Protorosauria. 309 pp.. Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History), London.
  6. ^ Hooley RW. (1914) On the ornithosaurian genus Ornithocheirus, with a review of the specimens from the Cambridge Greensand in the Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 78: 529-557. doi:10.1080/00222931408693521
  7. ^ Wellnhofer P. (1978) Pterosauria. Handbuch der Paläoherpetologie, Teil 19. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart and New York, 82 pp.
  8. ^ Averianov, AO (2012). "Ornithostoma sedgwicki--valid taxon of azhdarchoid pterosaurs" (PDF). Proceedings of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 316: 40–49.
  9. ^ Averianov, Alexander (2014). "Review of taxonomy, geographic distribution, and paleoenvironments of Azhdarchidae (Pterosauria)". ZooKeys (432): 1–107. doi:10.3897/zookeys.432.7913. PMC 4141157. PMID 25152671.
  10. ^ Vigors, N.A. (1825). "Sketches in ornithology; or observations on the leading affinities of some of the more extensive groups of birds." Zoological Journal, 2: 37–69.
  11. ^ Mantell, G.A. (1848). "A brief notice of organic remains recently discovered in the Wealden Formation." The Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, 5: 37–43.