Australia's oldest Anseriform fossil: a quadrate from the Early Eocene Tingamarra Fauna


Corresponding author.


Abstract:  A partial quadrate (essentially the otic part) from the nonmarine, earliest Eocene (54.6 Ma) Tingamarra Local Fauna in Queensland, Australia, has been identified as the oldest Australian anseriform fossil. The Tingamarra quadrate shows a combination of plesiomorphic anseriform characters with a unique synapomorphic character complex of the Anhimidae (screamers), which today are endemic to South America. In concert with the basal position of the Anhimidae among the crown-group anseriforms, this set of characters suggests a stem group of the Anhimidae, raising a possibility of the Transantarctic migration of stem anhimids to South America. The quadrate morphology supports palaeognathous rather than recently claimed anhimid relationships of the Dromornithidae and identifies Sylviornis as an anseriform rather than a galliform.