Ostrich

The earliest fossils of ostrich-like birds are Paleocene taxa from Europe. Palaeotis and Remiornis from the Middle Eocene and unspecified ratite remains are known from the Eocene and Oligocene of Europe and Africa. These may have been early relatives of the ostriches, but their status is questionable, and they may in fact represent multiple lineages of flightless paleognaths. The African Eremopezus, when not considered a basal secretarybird or shoebill, is sometimes considered an ostrich relative or an "aepyornithid-like" taxon. Apart from these enigmatic birds, the fossil record of the ostriches continues with several species of the modern genus Struthio, which are known from the Early Miocene onwards. Several of these fossil forms are ichnotaxa (that is, classified according to the organism's footprints or other trace rather than its body) and their association with those described from distinctive bones is contentious and in need of revision pending more good material. While the relationship of the African fossil species is comparatively straightforward, a large number of Asian species of ostriches have been described from fragmentary remains, and their interrelationships and how they relate to the African ostriches are confusing. In China, ostriches are known to have become extinct only around or even after the end of the last ice age; images of ostriches have been found there on prehistoric pottery and petroglyphs.

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