Monday, May 6, 2013

Bird fossils from the Indian Subcontinent

I normally desist from the archaic practice of listing things within meaningless political delineations but a need to locate information on bird (and near-bird) fossils and ichnotaxa from the Indian region led me to the discovery that there are no readily available reviews. This is a rather rough working index of taxa and sources. Additions are welcome.
  • Struthio asiaticus A. Milne-Edwards [Siwaliks] (bones, egg-shells from a wider range)
  • Dromaeus sivalensis Lydekker [Siwaliks]
  • Leptoptilos falconeri (=Argala falconeri) A. Milne-Edwards [Siwaliks]
  • Megascelornis sivalensis Lydekker [Siwaliks]
  • Pelicanus cautleyi Davies [Siwaliks]
  • Vastanavis eocaena Mayr et al., 2007 [Vastan, Gujarat]
  • V. cambayensis Mayr et al., 2010 [Vastan, Gujarat]
  • Strigidae [Narmada] Patnaik, R & A. Sahni (1994)
  • Egg clutch [Lameta, MH] Mohabey D.M.; S.G. Udhoji; K.K. Verma (1993)
Postscript: 8-May-2013
In going through an article by Badam (2005) I came across reproductions of a couple of rock drawings from Kathotia and Firengi south of Bhopal. These have apparently been attributed with some doubt to ostriches by paleographers. The illustration from Firengi is pretty poor for a match with an ostrich and on the other hand is a very good match to a Lesser Florican particularly in the fluffy neck and the two plumes exaggerated on the back. I agree with the authors about the inaccuracy in the detail of feet.

A 30,000 year old rock illustration reproduced from Badam (2005).
The bird on the right is a good match for a Lesser Florican.
An old illustration of Lesser Florican (Sypheotides indicus)
Postscript (24 Dec 2013): An exhibition on rock art at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bangalore included a photograph of the Kathotia bird and it is clear that Badam's sketch is an oversimplification.

PS: 10 Dec 2014 - new paper by - Blinkhorn, J.; Hema Achyuthan; Michael D. Petraglia (2015) Ostrich expansion into India during the Late Pleistocene: Implications for continental dispersal corridors. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 417:80–90.
Late Pleistocene ostrich egg shell records (Blinkhorn et al. 2015)


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