Quercypsitta-like birds from the early eocene of India (Aves, ?Psittaciformes)

Gerald Mayr, Rajendra S. Rana, Kenneth D. Rose, Ashok Sahni, Kishor Kumar, Lachham Singh, Thierry Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report new avian remains from the early Eocene Cambay Formation of Vastan Lignite Mine in western India. Most of the bones belong to the as yet poorly known taxon Vastanavis, of which a new species, V. cambayensis, is described. For the first time, tarsometatarsi of Vastanavis can be identified, which show that this taxon had semi-zygodactyl feet. In overall morphology, Vastanavis closely resembles the species of the Quercypsittidae, which occur in the late Eocene of Europe and are considered stem group representatives of the parrots (Psittaciformes). Several plesiomorphic features indicate, however, that Vastanavis is outside a clade including Quercypsitta and crown group Psittaciformes, and we therefore assign it to a new family, Vastanavidae. Vastanavis corresponds well with an as yet undescribed avian species from the early Eocene London Clay in England, and we conclude that, at least concerning the arboreal taxa, the early Eocene avifauna of India shows some concordances with the much better known one from the early Eocene of Europe. We further describe a distal tarsometatarsus from Vastan Lignite Mine that superficially resembles that of extant New World vultures (Cathartidae), but comes from a roller-sized species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-478
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Palaeontology


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