Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

New subclass of birds from the Cretaceous of South America

Abstract

Current classification of birds recognizes three subclasses which are morphologically distinct: the Archaeornithes for Archaeopteryx, the Odontornithes for the Hesperornithiformes and the Ichthyornithiformes, and the Neornithes for all modern birds and their extinct immediate relatives. (Some authorities1 prefer different names for some of these taxa.) I have examined new material recently discovered in the Upper Cretaceous rocks of Argentina which indicates the existence of a group of birds having features so different from those of the currently recognized subclasses that they seem to represent a fourth subclass, here named the Enantiornithes (‘opposite birds’). I describe unique features of the Enantiornithes which include a reduced outer metatarsal, in some forms an extreme modification of the remaining elements of the tarsometatarsus, a highly modified pectoral girdle, and sometimes a characteristic perforation in the proximal end of the humerus.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. Brodkorb, P. Bull. Fla St. Mus. biol. Sci. 7, 180 (1963).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bonaparte, J. F. & Powell, J. E. Mém. Soc. Géol. Fr. 139, 19–28 (1980).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Ostrom, J. H. Smithsonian Contr. Palaeobiol. 27, 1–21 (1976).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Brodkorb, P. Smithsonian Contr. Palaeobiol. 27, 67–73 (1976).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Tarsitano, S. & Hecht, M. K. Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 69, 149–182 (1980).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Walker, C. New subclass of birds from the Cretaceous of South America. Nature 292, 51–53 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1038/292051a0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/292051a0

This article is cited by

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing