Anser (bird) - Systematics, Taxonomy and Evolution - Fossil Record

Fossil Record

Numerous fossil species have been allocated to this genus. As the true geese are near-impossible to assign osteologically to genus, this must be viewed with caution. It can be assumed with limited certainty that European fossils from known inland sites belong into Anser. As species related to the Canada Goose have been described from the Late Miocene onwards in North America too, sometimes from the same localities as the presumed grey geese, it casts serious doubt on the correct generic assignment of the supposed North American fossil geese. The Early Pliocene Branta howardae is one of the cases where doubts have been expressed about its generic assignment. Similarly, Heterochen = Anser pratensis seems to differ profoundly from other species of Anser and might be placed into a different genus; alternatively, it might have been a unique example of a grey goose adapted for perching in trees.

  • Anser atavus (Middle/Late Miocene of Bavaria, Germany) - sometimes in Cygnus
  • Anser arenosus (Big Sandy Late Miocene of Wickieup, USA)
  • Anser arizonae (Big Sandy Late Miocene of Wickieup, USA)
  • Anser cygniformis (Late Miocene of Steinheim, Germany)
  • Anser oeningensis (Late Miocene of Oehningen, Switzerland)
  • Anser thraceiensis (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Trojanovo, Bulgaria)
  • Anser pratensis (Valentine Early Pliocene of Brown County, USA) - possibly separable in Heterochen
  • Anser pressus (Glenns Ferry Late Pliocene of Hagerman, USA) - formerly Chen pressa
  • Anser thompsoni (Pliocene of Nebraska)
  • Anser azerbaidzhanicus (Early? Pleistocene of Binagady, Azerbaijan)

The Maltese swan Cygnus equitum was occasionally placed into Anser, and Anser condoni is a synonym of Cygnus paloregonus. A goose fossil from the Early-Middle Pleistocene of El Salvador is highly similar to Anser. Given its age it is likely to belong to an extant genus, and biogeography indicates Branta as other likely candidate.

?Anser scaldii (Late Miocene of Antwerp, Belgium) may be a shelduck.

Read more about this topic:  Anser (bird), Systematics, Taxonomy and Evolution

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