A Caltech Library Service

Quaternary Bird Life of the McKittrick Asphalt, California

DeMay, Ida S. (1941) Quaternary Bird Life of the McKittrick Asphalt, California. In: Studies of Cenozoic Vertebrates of Western North America and of Fossil Primates. Carnegie Institution of Washington Publication. No.530. , Washington, DC, pp. 35-60.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Fossil bird remains from the Quaternary asphaltic lenses near McKittrick, California have been discussed in a number of papers during the past twenty years. Two avifaunas in the collection of the University of California were described in detail by L. H. Miller (1925, 1935). The first of these included a large number of aquatic or semiaquatic species, and therefore presented a definite contrast with the Pleistocene avifauna of Rancho La Brea. The second consisted predominantly of birds of nonaquatic habitat, and showed greater similarity to that of the asphalt deposits in Los Angeles. In addition to a general account of the McKittrick avifaunas, special studies have appeared which relate to new species identified in the collections of the University of California (L. H. Miller, 1924, 1927). Thus far no comprehensive study has been made of the McKittrick avifauna based on the collections of the California Institute of Technology, although certain species among the fossil birds have in the past received individual attention. For example, L. H. Miller described some stork material in 1932 and 1938. A new genus and species of pygmy goose was described by Ross in 1935, and the species was later reassigned by Howard (1936). In 1938, Howard also identified remains of the caracara. L. H. Miller (1935) states that his account of the avifauna from McKittrick is based on the remains in the collection of the University of California, but notes that an examination was likewise made of some of the bird bones in the collection of the California Institute of Technology. Since the fossil materials in the collections of the latter institution represent the largest number of specimens thus far obtained at McKittrick, it seems desirable to survey this important Quaternary bird assemblage in order to determine additional facts regarding its constitution, and to establish its ecologic and age relationships. Fortunately, recent studies make available more information regarding the avifaunas of Rancho La Brea and Carpinteria, and thus furnish a basis for closer comparison between these and the McKittrick assemblage than has been possible heretofore.

Item Type:Book Section
Additional Information:© 1941 Carnegie Institution of Washington. It is a pleasure to acknowledge my indebtedness to Dr. Loye Holmes Miller, of the University of California at Los Angeles, for guidance and constant encouragement in the course of this study. Access to his comparative collections of Recent and fossil bird skeletons and free use of his documented materials have made this work possible. The fossil bird bones from McKittrick in the collections of the California Institute of Technology were made available by Dr. Chester Stock, whose continued interest and valuable advice are deeply appreciated. Dr. Hildegarde Howard very kindly permitted access to the comparative material in the Rancho la Brea and Recent collections of the Los Angeles Museum. I should also like to extend thanks to Dr. Howard for suggestions and for aid in the identification of some of the more difficult species. The text figures were prepared by David P. Willoughby. Other acknowledgements are made in the text.
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Balch Graduate School of the Geological Sciences316
Series Name:Carnegie Institution of Washington Publication
Issue or Number:530
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210816-204244871
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:110279
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:16 Aug 2021 21:44
Last Modified:16 Aug 2021 21:44

Repository Staff Only: item control page