Abstract

The first remains of the giant bird Gastornis, found in 1855 in the Lower Eocene of Meudon, near Paris, attracted much attention in the scientific community. both because of the large size of this bird and because of its great antiquity. Thereafter, Gastornis was mentioned in many books and papers aimed at a large audience. About 1880, the discovery of more abundant remains in the Palaeocene of the Reims area led V. Lemoine to publish a reconstruction of the skeleton of Gastornis which was influenced by contemporaneous discoveries of primitive birds, which were used as evidence in favour of evolution. Because of this erroneous reconstruction, the close resemblances between Gastornis and the related North American form Diatryma went unrecognized for nearly a century.

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