In Europe, Miocene rails (Aves, Rallidae) are quite abundant, but their phylogenetic placement in the context of recent forms has remained elusive. Rails from the early Miocene of the Saint-Gérand-le-Puy area in central France were first described in the 19th century, and currently, only two species are recognized, namely Palaeoaramides christyi and Paraortygometra porzanoides. Our examination of the material however suggests the presence of four, likely coeval, species of rail from these deposits. Palaeoaramides eximius, previously synonymized with Palaeoaramides christyi, is here shown to probably be a distinct species, and a previously unrecognized rail, Baselrallus intermedius gen. et sp. nov., is described. To find out how these fossil rails are related to modern Rallidae, we compared them with an extensive sample of extant rails and identified plesiomorphic and derived features for crown group Rallidae. Our assessment does not support a particularly close relationship of either Palaeoaramides to Aramides or Paraortygometra to Crex (Ortygometra), and overall, these fossil rails are more primitive than previously assumed. Based on our observations of the morphology of the previously undescribed humerus of Palaeoaramides, we show this taxon to be outside crown group Rallidae, and perhaps closely related to the early Oligocene taxon Belgirallus. On the other hand, Paraortygometra porzanoides bears a resemblance to recent flufftails (Sarothrura spp.) in some elements, but whether it can be included in a clade together with flufftails is uncertain.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGICAL SYSTEMATICS AND EVOLUTIONARY RESEARCH|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 2014|