Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia
RESEARCH ARTICLE

A new cracticid (Passeriformes : Cracticidae) from the Early Miocene of Australia

Jacqueline M. T. Nguyen A D , Trevor H. Worthy B , Walter E. Boles C , Suzanne J. Hand A and Michael Archer A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

B School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia.

C Research and Collections Branch, Ornithology Section, Australian Museum, 6 College Street, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: jacqueline.nguyen@unsw.edu.au

Emu 113(4) 374-382 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU13017
Submitted: 11 March 2013  Accepted: 5 June 2013   Published: 27 November 2013

Abstract

The Cracticidae (Passeriformes) is an endemic Australo-Papuan family that, for the purposes of this paper, comprises the butcherbirds and Australian Magpie (Cracticus), currawongs (Strepera) and peltops (Peltops). Here we describe a new genus and species of cracticid from an Early Miocene deposit in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, north-western Queensland, Australia. Kurrartapu johnnguyeni, gen. nov., sp. nov. is described from a proximal tarsometatarsus that is similar in size to that of the extant Black Butcherbird (C. quoyi). This new species shares morphological features with the StreperaCracticus clade to the exclusion of Peltops, which suggests that it is a representative of the crown-group Cracticidae. Kurrartapu johnnguyeni represents the first Tertiary record of the Cracticidae in Australia, and is in concordance with molecular estimates for the timing of the cracticid radiation. We also describe morphological differences of the tarsometatarsus between cracticids and woodswallows (Artamus), which have at times been considered confamilial. We add this new cracticid to the expanding Tertiary fossil record of passerines in Australia, which plays a significant role in our understanding of early passerine evolution.

Additional keywords: Artamus, Cracticus, fossil bird, passerine, Riversleigh, songbird, Strepera, tarsometatarsus.


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