We survey the known avian fossils from Ypresian (early Eocene) fossil sites of the North American Okanagan Highlands, mainly in British Columbia (Canada). All specimens represent taxa that were previously unknown from the Eocene of far-western North America. Wings from the McAbee site are tentatively referred to the Gaviiformes and would constitute the earliest fossil record of this group of birds. A postcranial skeleton from Driftwood Canyon is tentatively assigned to the Songziidae, a taxon originally established for fossils from the Ypresian of China. Two skeletons from Driftwood Canyon and the McAbee site are tentatively referred to Coliiformes and Zygodactylidae, respectively, whereas three further fossils from McAbee, Blakeburn, and Republic (Washington, USA) are too poorly preserved for even a tentative assignment. The specimens from the Okanagan Highlands inhabited relatively high paleoaltitudes with microthermal climates (except Quilchena: lower mesothermal) and mild winters, whereas most other Ypresian fossil birds are from much warmer lowland paleoenvironments with upper mesothermal to megathermal climates. The putative occurrence of a gaviiform bird is particularly noteworthy because diving birds are unknown from other lacustrine Ypresian fossil sites of the Northern Hemisphere. The bones of the putative zygodactylid show a sulphurous colouration, and we hypothesize that this highly unusual preservation may be due to the metabolic activity of sulphide-oxidizing bacteria.
Early Eocene (Ypresian) birds from the Okanagan Highlands, British Columbia (Canada) and Washington State (USA)
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Gerald Mayr, S. Bruce Archibald, Gary W. Kaiser, Rolf W. Mathewes; Early Eocene (Ypresian) birds from the Okanagan Highlands, British Columbia (Canada) and Washington State (USA). Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences ; 56 (8): 803–813. doi: https://doi.org/10.1139/cjes-2018-0267
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