I made reference to this specimen back in October, in the comments on the post about Carmel Church birds. This is VMNH’s only specimen of a pseudodontorn.
Pseudodontorns (Family Pelagornithidae) were gigantic soaring birds thought to be related to pelicans. They get their name from the serration on the beak, which make the beak look like it has teeth. Pseudodontorns range from the Oligocene to the Pliocene, and are the largest known flying birds, with wingspans up to 20 feet or more. Here’s a reconstruction on exhibit at the Calvert Marine Museum:
The VMNH specimen is the proximal end of the
left right humerus. The specimen is not from Carmel Church, but instead it’s from the Mill Pond Creek locality in Hanover County, Virginia. It was found in one of the jackets of a whale skeleton that was collected in 1969 after being exposed by flooding caused by Hurricane Camille. It comes from Bed 14 of the Calvert Formation, which is the same bed we’re excavating at Carmel Church. So far as I have been able to determine, only four other pseudodontorn bones have ever been reported from Virginia, all of them from Calvert Bed 14 in Westmoreland County.
It turns out that this is a rather interesting specimen, even as incomplete as it is. It’s a very close match in size and shape to Pelagornis sp. 2 of Olson and Rasmussen (2001), from the Lee Creek Mine in North Carolina (either early Miocene or early Pliocene in age). Here is the Lee Creek Mine specimen figured by Olson and Rasmussen next to the Mill Pond Creek specimen, to the same scale (the Lee Creek Mine specimen is the right humerus, so they’re mirror images):
What makes this interesting is that the Lee Creek pseudodontorns are much larger than those previously described from the Calvert Formation, and are in fact among the largest known psedodontorns. In addition to being a rare Virginia record of this family, it may also represent the largest pseudodontorn ever found in the Calvert Formation.