FOSSIL RATITE BIRDS OF THE LATE TERTIARY OF
By ALDEN H. MILLER, Museum op Paleontology, University
Two kinds of ratite birds occur in the late Tertiary of the Lake
Eyre region of Australia. These fossils are part of the Palankarinna
fauna, tentatively referred to the early Pliocene, and were found in
the Mampuwordu Sands at. Lake Palankarinna. One specimen is
described as a new species of emu, Dromiceius ocypns, which shows
foot specialization equivalent to that of the modern emus of the
continent. It is a smaller species than the living emu of the area but
has foot proportions like the even smaller insular species of
Pleistocene and Eecent times. The other specimen is a fragmentary
pelvis which is referred to the genus Genyornis. It is equivalent in
size to the giant extinct Genyorms neivtoni of tlie Pleistocene.
The fossils here reported extend the paleontologie record of the
avian families Dromiceiidae and Dromornithidae from the late
Pleistocene back to the Pliocene.
The discovery of Tertiary fossil-bearing deposits in the Lake Eyre
basin of South Australia was made known in 1954 by R. A. Stirton.
One of the fossil assemblages found was of late Tertiary age and has
been tentatively referred to the early Pliocene. It has been designated
the Palankarinna fauna (Stirton, Tedford, and Miller, 1961, p. 37).
In our preliminary listing of this fauna, a ratite bird was mentioned
(p. 38). This may now be described as well as an additional ratite
from the same formation that was obtained in the course of the field
expedition of 1961.
Work on fossil vertebrates of South Australia has continued to
receive the generous support and encouragement of the South