Completed Pelagornis humerus


In March 2011 we collected our first specimen of Pelagornis from Carmel Church. We didn’t get much, just the distal end of the right humerus. As it happened, we already had a fragment of a Pelagornis right humerus in our collection from another locality, but this one was part of the proximal end. At around the same time, Mayr and Rubilar-Rogers (2010) published a description of Pelagornis chilensis, based on a largely complete specimen. Once I saw that our humeral fragments were both from the right side, were from the same bed, and were from humeri that were about the same size as one another, I decided we should try to reconstruct the entire bone.

I didn’t get far on the project until we hired Ray in 2012. He was able to make molds of each of our two fragments. Using P. chilensis as a guide, he attached resin copies to each end of a steel rod, then modeled the missing bone using foam and putty.


We then made a mold of the reconstruction:


We poured of first cast of the completed reconstruction on Dino Day, and I finished painting it last night. The result is shown at the top of the page.

We plan to make several copies of this bone, including one for our planned Carmel Church traveling exhibit.


Mayr, G. and D. Rubilar-Rogers, 2010. Osteology of a new giant bony-toothed bird from the Miocene of Chile, with a revision of the taxonomy of Neogene Pelagornithidae. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30:1313-1330.

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2 Responses to Completed Pelagornis humerus

  1. Boesse says:

    That looks great! How long is it? I take it you scaled it from the transverse width of the proximal end or the size of the capitulum/capitis.

  2. altondooley says:

    Thanks, Bobby!

    We relied primarily on the size of the distal end, since it’s complete. The proximal end was a bit tricker, since we only have half of it (and it’s a different individual), but we were coming up with about the same length estimate no matter which end we used. At any rate, the restored length we came up with was 77 cm, which is a little shorter than P. chilensis (82 cm).

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