A new species of marabou, Leptoptilos lüi sp. nov., is described on the basis of a cranium, distal humerus, and proximal phalanx of the major digit, from the Middle Pleistocene Jinniushan locality, Liaoning Province of northeastern China. Fossil crania of the genus Leptoptilos are rare, and that of the new bird is distinct from the crania of its extant relatives. The forelimb elements are the largest and most robust among living and fossil species of Leptoptilos and are characterized by autapomorphic characters. Leptoptilos lüi, like the African Marabou Stork (L. crumeniferus), probably possessed a considerable flight capability and fed mainly on pieces of carrion torn from carcasses by other, sympatric large scavengers. The new stork aids in our understanding of the paleoecology and paleoenvironment of northeastern China in the Middle Pleistocene, helps us characterize the scavenger guild that fed on the Middle Pleistocene megafauna, and shows that the genus Leptoptilos, now restricted to the Old World tropics, extended into higher latitudes in the Middle Pleistocene.
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Vol. 129 • No. 4