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Fossil birds are relatively rare in Cretaceous deposits of the Northern Great Plains, so the discovery of a large, new diving bird was unexpected. From marine deposits of the Niobrara Formation in Kansas a small diversity of birds was known, but until now the large diving bird, Hesperornis, was the only bird taxon known from the Pierre Shale Group of South Dakota. The new discovery, a partial skeleton of another diving bird, Baptornis, was secured from the Sharon Springs Formation (lower middle Campanian) of the Pierre Shale Group in Fall River County, South Dakota. The specimen is represented by vertebrae, pelvic fragments, and lower leg elements that are similar to but much more robust than Baptornis advenus from the subjacent Niobrara Formation. The new taxon is nearly twice the size of the Niobrara species, principally in robustness rather than in length of elements. Overall, the specimen represents the first occurrence of Baptornis from the Pierre Shale Group, represents a new species, and indicates a greater diversity of birds from the Pierre Shale Group than was previously known.

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