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Teratornis: a New Avian Genus from Rancho La Brea By Loye Holmes Miller

Joseph Grinnell
Publication Information
Journal: 
Condor
Volume: 
12
Issue: 
1 (January-February)
Section: 
Publications Reviewed
Year: 
1910
Pages: 
48

Teratornis: A New Avian Genus From Rancho La Brea

A second new fossil bird from the asphalt beds near Los Angeles is described by Mr. LOYE HOLMES MIILER in a paper entitled TERATORNIS A NEW AVIAN GENUS PROM RANCHO LA BREA. The species is, of course, new, as well as the genus and is called Teratornis merriami, in honor of Professor John C. Merriam of the University of California, thru whose efforts the Rancho La Brea fossil beds have been brought to the attention of paleontologists.

The description is based on corocoids, sternum, and nearly complete skull. The fragments so far secured represent at least four individuals. The bird is related to the Birds of Prey, and was of immense size, much greater than any existing flying bird. It is found difficult to assign the new form to any existing family, tho vulture-like characters predominate. Since the limb bones and feet are still unknown final conclusions as to relationship are postponed; yet it appears probable that a new family will have to be establisht for it. This discovery is in the greatest degree of importance and interest,probably more so than any previous one among fossil birds for two decades.

In the same paper there is also described a new species of vulture, larger than the Turkey Buzzard, closely related to the Black Vulture of the South Atlantic States. This is called Catharista occidentalis. As Mr. Miller's work on the fossil birds of the Rancho La Brea beds continue, we may expect further discoveries of extreme interest in the light that they shed on the history of the avifauna of southern California.

J. G.

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