Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, 66 Ma
Torotix is a Late Cretaceous genus of aquatic birds. They lived along the shores of the Western Interior Seaway, but it is not clear whether they were seabirds or freshwater birds, as the genus is only known from a humerus. Consequently, the genus contains only one known species, Torotix clemensi. T. clemensi is represented by a single fossil specimen, a partial humerus (upper arm bone) recovered from the Lance formation of Wyoming, deposits dated to the very end of the Cretaceous period, 66 million years ago.
Torotix was first described by Brodkorb in 1963, who initially suggested that it was related to modern flamingos, in the order Phoenicopteriformes. Later researchers thought it was more likely to have been related to the Charadriiformes (waders/shorebirds). More recent comparative studies have found it to be most similar to Pelecaniformes.
A cladistic study of the wing bone found Torotix not to resemble that of the waved albatross (a procellariiform), northern gannet (a "pelecaniform" of the suborder Suli), painted buttonquail (an ancient charadriiform), black-necked stilt (a more advanced charadriiform) or a Phoenicopterus flamingo noticeably more than any other. However, this comparison provided information only about ecological rather than phylogenetic similarities.
The family Torotigidae was initially established to unite this genus with Parascaniornis and Gallornis. However, the former is now considered a junior synonym of Baptornis (a hesperornithine), while the latter may be a very early fowl of the group Galloanserae.
- Brodkorb (1963). "Birds from the Upper Cretaceous of Wyoming." pp. 50–70 in Sibley (ed.), Proceedings of the XIII International Ornithological Congress.
- Olson, S. (1985). "The fossil record of birds." pp. 79–239 in Farner, King and Parkes (eds.), Avian Biology vol VIII. New York: Academic Press.
- Hope, S. (2002). "The Mesozoic radiation of Neornithes." pp. 339–388 in Chiappe, L. and Witmer, L.M. (eds), Mesozoic Birds: Above the Heads of Dinosaurs. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Varricchio, David J. (2002). "A new bird from the Upper Cretaceous Two Medicine Formation of Montana". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 39 (1): 19–26. doi:10.1139/e01-057.
- Sibley, Charles G.; Corbin, Kendall W. & Haavie, Joan H. (1969). "The Relationships of the Flamingos as Indicated by the Egg-White Proteins and Hemoglobins" (PDF). The Condor. 71 (2): 155–179. doi:10.2307/1366077.
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