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Paracathartes is a genus of extinct bird from the Wasachtian horizon of lower Eocene Wyoming, USA. One species, Paracathartes howardae has been described.

Temporal range: Early Paleocene–Middle Eocene
Early Paleocene - Middle Eocene
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Lithornithiformes
Family: Lithornithidae
Genus: Paracathartes
(Harrison, 1979)[1]

Paracathartes howardae

It is a paleognathous bird, turkey-like in stature and size, that probably resembled a tinamou quite closely.

Paracathartes was described by Harrison as the earliest known cathartid vulture.[2] Rich criticized this assignment.[3][3] Houde (1988) included it as a member of the order Lithornithiformes and family Lithornithidae.[4]

The holotype specimen is in the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum. It has catalog number ROM 22658. It is the distal end of a left tibiotarsus. It was collected by G. E. Lindblad and G. Sternberg on 4 August 1949. It was found at the northernmost branch of Elk Creek, near Basin, Wyoming. The horizon is Greybullian, middle Wasatchian (early Eocene), Willwood Formation, Bighorn Basin.

Further specimens of Paracathartes were collected, including almost the whole skeleton (USNM 361402-361446, 391984, 404747-404806) from at least five individuals preserved together. These bones were associated with three whole eggs (USNM 336564) and an avian neurocranium (USNM 361415) which may belong to Paracathartes or to a possible phorusrhacid.[2]


  1. ^ Hinton, (1996)
  2. ^ a b Harrison, C. J. O. (1979)
  3. ^ a b Rich, P. V. (1983)
  4. ^ Houde, Peter W. (1988)


  • Harrison, C. J. O. (1979). "A new cathartid vulture from the lower Eocene of Wyoming". Tertiary Research Special Papers. 5: 29–39.
  • Hinton, A. C.; Lang, W. D.; et al. (1996). Edwards, Marcia A. (ed.). Nomenclator Zoologicus. 9. Regents Park, London: Zoological Society of London. p. 479.
  • Houde, Peter W. (1988). "Paleognathous Birds from the Early Tertiary of the Northern Hemisphere". Publications of the Nuttall Ornithological Club. Cambridge, MA. 22.
  • Rich, P. V. (1983). "In Vulture biology and management". In Wilbur, S. R.; Jackson, J. A. (eds.). The fossil history of vultures: A world perspective. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. pp. 3–25.