The carpometacarpus of Apterornis
|Title||The carpometacarpus of Apterornis|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||1994|
|Type of Article||paper|
The carpometacarpus of the extinct, flightless gruiform Apterornis is described and illustrated, based on one specimen from the North Island form (A. otidiformis) and two specimens from the larger South Island form (A. defossor). The element is uniquely truncated distally, resulting in the loss of the distal portions of ossa metacarpalia majus and minus, the entire extremitas distalis carpometacarpi, and the spatium intermetacarpale. Although a few features of the extremitas proximalis carpometacarpi are variably discernable (e.g., trochlea carpalis, fovea carpalis cranialis, and fossa supratrochlearis), most features typical of the element in other Gruiformes are lacking. In both specimens for A. defossor, phalanx digiti alulae is synostotic with processus extensorius of the carpometacarpus, whereas in the single specimen for A. oridiformis the phalanx is absent. The absence of facies anicularis of phalanges digiti majoris and digiti minoris indicates the loss of both digits in Apterornis. The qualitative, flightlessness-related apomorphies of the carpometacarpus of Apterornis are unique among birds, and indicate a degree of alar reduction unequalled among carinate birds.