Miocene waterfowl and other birds from central Otago, New Zealand
Journal of Systematic Palaeontology
SYNOPSIS Abundant fossil bird bones from the lower Bannockburn Formation, Manuherikia Group, an Early-Middle Miocene lacustrine deposit, 16-19 Ma, from Otago in New Zealand, reveal the "St Bathans Fauna" (new name), a first Tertiary avifauna of land and freshwater birds from New Zealand. At least 23 species of birds are represented by bones, and probable moa, Aves: Dinornithiformes, by eggshell. Anatids dominate the fauna with four genera and five species described as new: a sixth and largest
... sixth and largest anatid species is represented by just one bone. This is the most diverse Early-Middle Miocene duck fauna known worldwide. Among ducks, two species of dendrochenines are most numerous in the fauna, but a tadornine is common as well. A diving petrel (Pelecanoididae: Pelecanoides) is described, so extending the geological range of this genus worldwide from the Pliocene to the Middle Miocene, at least. The remaining 16 taxa are left undescribed but include: a large species of gull (Laridae); two small waders (Charadriiformes, genus indet.), the size of Charadrius bicinctus and Calidris ruficollis, respectively; a gruiform represented by one specimen similar to Aptornis; abundant rail (Rallidae) bones, including a common flightless rail and a rarer slightly larger taxon, about the size of Gallirallus philippensis; an ?eagle (Accipitridae); a pigeon (Columbidae); three parrots (Psittacidae); an owlet nightjar (Aegothelidae: Aegotheles sp.); a swiftlet (Apodidae: Collocalia sp.); and three passerine taxa, of which the largest is a member of the Cracticidae. The absence of some waterbirds, such as anserines (including swans), grebes (Podicipedidae) and shags (Phalacrocoracidae), among the abundant bones, indicates their probable absence from New Zealand in the Early-Middle Miocene.