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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2018 / A well-preserved pelvis from the Maastrichtian of Romania suggests that the enigmatic Gargantuavis is neither an ornithurine bird nor an insular endemic

Gerald Mayr, Vlad Codrea, Alexandru Solomon, Marian Bordeianu and Thierry Smith (2019)

A well-preserved pelvis from the Maastrichtian of Romania suggests that the enigmatic Gargantuavis is neither an ornithurine bird nor an insular endemic

Cretaceous Research, 106:204171 (10 pages).

We describe a well-preserved pelvis from the Maastrichtian S^anpetru Formation of the Hat¸ eg Basin in Romania. The fossil closely resembles the pelvis of Gargantuavis philoinos from the Ibero-Armorican Peninsula, but differs in a smaller size and a few morphological features. It constitutes the first record of Gargantuavis outside the Ibero-Armorican Island and is more complete than any of the previously known Gargantuavis pelves. The new fossil allows the recognition of characteristics previously unknown for Gargantuavis. These include the presence of large supratrochanteric processes, the absence of a widened midsection of the synsacrum (which indicates the absence of a glycogen body), and the absence of fusion between the pelvic bones at the level of the acetabulum. The latter two features suggest that Gargantuavis is not closely related to the Ornithurae and the taxon may even fall outside the Ornithothoraces, the clade including Enantiornithes and Ornithuromorpha. Recognition of Gargantuavis in the fauna of the Hat¸ eg Island is of particular significance, because various theropods have been described from the Upper Cretaceous of Romania. The Romanian pelvis is of similar size to Elopteryx nopcsai, which was described as avian and is based on hindlimb elements, and it also shows some similarities to the pelvis of the unusual theropod Balaur bondoc. The new fossil furthermore disproves the hypothesis that the flight capabilities of Gargantuavis were lost in an insular environment of the Ibero-Armorican Island, and raises the possibility that Gargantuavis, Elopteryx, and Balaur belong to a distinctive theropod clade of the Late Cretaceous European archipelago.
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Paleontology