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Temporal range: Early-Late Cretaceous, 120–66 Ma
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Enantiornithes
Clade: Euenantiornithes
Family: Avisauridae
Brett-Surman and Paul, 1985
  • Concornithidae Kurochkin, 1996
  • Cuspirostrisornithidae Hou, 1997
  • Mystiornithidae Kurochkin et al., 2011

The Avisauridae are a family of extinct Enantiornithine birds known from Cretaceous North and South America.[3] They are represented by ten genera.[4]

Avisauridae was erected by Brett-Surman and Paul in 1985. They included in this family a few fossils that they believed belonged to small non-avian dinosaurs.[5]

Chiappe (1992) later reassigned the Avisauridae to the class Aves and the subclass Enantiornithes. Chiappe (1993) [6] diagnosed the family as "Enantiornithine birds with a strong transverse convexity of the dorsal surface of the mid — shaft of metatarsal III, a distinct plantar projection of the medial rim of the trochlea of Metatarsal III, and a laterally compressed J-shaped metatarsal I." He defined the family as the common ancestor of Neuquenornis volans and Avisaurus archibaldi plus all its descendants. In 2008, the family was redefined as Avisaurus archibaldi and all genera more closely related to it than to either Longipteryx, Gobipteryx or Sinornis.[4]

Cladogram based on Cau and Arduini (2008):[4]









Chiappe and Calvo (1994) found that the Avisauridae shared adaptations of the foot — including a fully reversed and distally placed hallux with a large claw — that indicated the ability to perch in trees. They argued that an arboreal habit was most likely for all of the Avisauridae.[7]


  1. ^ Gareth J. Dyke; Attila Ősi (2010). "A review of Late Cretaceous fossil birds from Hungary". Geological Journal. 45 (4): 434–444. doi:10.1002/gj.1209. 
  2. ^ Fernando Emilio Novas, Federico Lisandro Agnolín and Carlos Agustín Scanferla (2010). "New enantiornithine bird (Aves, Ornithothoraces) from the Late Cretaceous of NW Argentina". Comptes Rendus Palevol. 9 (8): 499–503. doi:10.1016/j.crpv.2010.09.005. 
  3. ^ Chiappe, Luis M. (1992) "Enantiornithine (Aves) Tarsometatarsi and the Avian Affinities of the Late Cretaceous Avisauridae" "Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology" September 3, 1992, Volume 12 no. 3 pp. 344-350
  4. ^ a b c Cau, A. & Arduini, P. (2008). "Enantiophoenix electrophyla gen. et sp. nov. (Aves, Enantiornithes) from the Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian) of Lebanon and its phylogenetic relationships". Atti della Societa Italiana di Scienze Naturali e del Museo ivico di Storia Naturale in Milano. 149 (2): 293–324. 
  5. ^ Brett-Surman, Michael K.; Paul, Gregory S. (1985). "A new family of bird-like dinosaurs linking Laurasia and Gondwanaland". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 5 (2): 133–138. doi:10.1080/02724634.1985.10011851. 
  6. ^ Chiappe, Luis M. (1993) " Enantiornithine (Aves) Tarsometatarsi from the Cretaceous Lecho Formation of Northwestern Argentina" American Museum Novitates December 27, 1993 Number 3083 pp. 1-2
  7. ^ Chiappe, Luis M., Calvo, Jorge O. (1994) "Neuquenornis volans, a New Late Cretaceous Bird (Enantiornithes: Avisauridae) from Patagonia, Argentina" "Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology" June 22, 1994 Volume 14 No. 2 pp.230-246.