PROC. BIOL. SOC. WASH. 106(4), 1993, pp. 749-751 A PETREL-LIKE BIRD FROM THE LATE EOCENE OF LOUISIANA: EARLIEST RECORD FOR THE ORDER PROCELLARIIFORMES Alan Feduccia and A. Bradley McPherson Abstract. —The earliest known certain record of the avian order Procellariifor-mes is a Pterodroma-like fossil represented by the distal end of a tibiotarsus, reported herein, from the late Eocene Yazoo Formation of Louisiana. Sedi-ments bearing this bird appear to have been deposited on the continental shelf far from the Eocene coast line of the Gulf of Mexico, and associated fossils include a sea snake, a primitive whale, numerous chondrichthian and marine teleost fishes, and a large marine invertebrate fauna. Given the relative abundance of the mod-em "tube-nosed swimmers," it is somewhat surprising that the Procellariiformes do not have a more comprehensive fossil record (Brodkorb 1963, Olson 1985a). This may be due in part to their pelagic habits, and also to the fact that most major finds of fossil birds have been from the Northern Hemi-sphere, whereas the Procellariiformes are predominantly distributed in the Southern Hemisphere. The order is thought to be ancient, but the fossil record has yet to provide much support for this assumption. The avifauna of the late Cretaceous greensands of New Jersey, recently revised by Olson & Parris (1987), includes 8 or 9 genera and 9 or 10 species, of which two genera and species show some similarities with the Procellar-iiformes. However, given the fragmentary nature of the material and the mosaic nature of many early Paleogene birds, positive identification must await the discovery of more complete material. Paleogene procel-lariiform fossils are rare. Albatrosses (Di-omedeidae) range only back to the Upper Oligocene (Olson 1985a). Excluding fossils of neospecies, the storm-petrels Oceanod-roma hubbsi (Oceanitidae) from the late Miocene of California, and a species of Oceanites from the early Pliocene of South Africa, as well as a diving-petrel Peleca-noides (Pelecanoididae) from the early Plio-cene of South Africa (Olson 1985b), all oth-er fossil species of the order are contained within the Procellariidae. With the excep-tion of the present find, the fossil record of the Procellariidae extended back only to the early Oligocene of Belgium, by a fossil hu-merus described as Puffinus raemdonckii (Brodkorb, 1962). Thus, the find of a fossil close in morphology to Pterodroma from a marine late Eocene locality in Louisiana is of particular interest, and extends the range of the order Procellariiformes back one geo-logic epoch. The fossil reported here is the distal end (28.5 mm) of a left tibiotarsus (Fig. 1), CCVC (Centenary College Vertebrate Collection) 001004, collected by BMP during February of 1984, from a pit in an oil well field west of the village of Tullos, Louisiana (La Salle Parish); west of the Union Pacific Railroad, but within the "city" limits. The locality is from the late Eocene Jackson stage (early Priabonian age) of the Tulos Member of the Yazoo Formation (Murray 1961). Other amniote vertebrates from Tullos include a zeuglodontid whale (either Zygo-rhiza kochii or Basilosaurus cetoides) (Har-ris & Veatch 1899), and the giant sea snake Pterosphenus schucherti (McPherson &



A petrel-like bird from the late Eocene of Louisiana: earliest record for the order procellariiformes

A Feduccia and Mcpherson A Bradley
Proceedings of The Biological Society of Washington 106: 749-751 (1993)

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