Precursor (bird)

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Temporal range: Ypresian
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Subclass: Neornithes
Superorder: Neoaves
Order: see text
Genus: "Precursor"
Harrison & Walker, 1977
  • "Precursor" parvus Harrison & Walker, 1977 (type)
  • "Precursor" litorhinus Harrison & Walker, 1977
  • "Precursor" magnus Harrison & Walker, 1977

but see text

"Precursor" is a controversial prehistoric bird genus from the Early Eocene.[1][2] It was established based on fossils found in England, including in the famous London Clay deposits. Three species are included in the genus: "P." parvus, the type species; "P." litorhinus, and "P." magnus, all named by Colin Harrison and Cyril Walker in 1977.[1][3]

These remains were originally considered to be members of the Charadriiformes, more specifically the earliest representatives of the Glareolidae (pratincoles and coursers).[1] However, several authors have since found this interpretation to be dubious,[2][4] with the lack of measurements and contradictory wording making the original description's conclusions difficult to verify.[5] At least some of the material, namely the paratype humerus of "P." parvus, has been re-interpreted as belonging to the Pseudasturidae (or Halcyornithidae), a group of stem-parrots.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b c Harrison, C. J. O.; Walker, C. A. (1977). "Birds of the British Lower Eocene". Tertiary Research, Special Paper. 3: 1–52. 
  2. ^ a b Mlikovsky, J. (1996). "Tertiary avian faunas of Europe" (PDF). Acta Universitatis Carolinae, Geologica. 39: 777–818. 
  3. ^ Mlikovsky, J. (1996). "Tertiary Avian Localities of the United Kingdom" (PDF). Acta Universitatis Carolinae, Geologica. 39: 777–818. 
  4. ^ Mlikovsky, J. (2000). "Early Miocene pratincoles (Aves, Glareolidae) from Dolnice, Czech Republic" (PDF). Acta Societatis Zoologicae Bohemicae. 64: 93–96. 
  5. ^ Steadman, D.W. (1981). "Review: Birds of the British Lower Eocene by C. J. O. Harrison, C. A. Walker". The Auk. 98 (1): 205–207. 
  6. ^ Mayr, G. (2002). "On the osteology and phylogenetic affinities of the Pseudasturidae – Lower Eocene stem-group representatives of parrots (Aves, Psittaciformes)". Zoological Journal of the Linnaean Society. 136 (4): 715–729. doi:10.1046/j.1096-3642.2002.00042.x. 
  7. ^ Ksepka, D.T.; Clarke, J.A.; Grande, L. (2011). "Stem Parrots (Aves, Halcyornithidae) from the Green River Formation and a Combined Phylogeny of Pan-Psittaciformes". Journal of Paleontology. 85 (5): 835–852. doi:10.1666/10-108.1.