Abstract

New discoveries afford a much better knowledge of the large birds previously reported from the Upper Cretaceous of southern France on the basis of a single synsacrum fragment. An incomplete pelvis consisting of the synsacrum with part of the ilia is used to define a new taxon of bird, Gargantuavis philoinos, to which a femur is also referred. This bird is characterized by its very large size (comparable to that of an ostrich), a broad pelvis with an anteriorly placed acetabulum, and a short robust femur. The occurrence of this very large, flightless, bird in the Late Cretaceous shows that, contrary to widespread opinion, the evolution of large terrestrial birds was not simply the result of adaptation during the Cenozoic to ecological niches left empty by the extinction of the dinosaurs. It also strongly suggests that some of the large fossil eggs from the Upper Cretaceous of southern France were laid by large ground birds rather than dinosaurs.

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