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Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 91, Issue 4, pp 173–177 | Cite as

The oldest European fossil songbird from the early Oligocene of Germany

  • Gerald Mayr
  • Albrecht Manegold
Short Communication

Abstract

We report on the oldest European songbird (Passeriformes), from the early Oligocene (30–34 million years ago) of Frauenweiler in Germany. The specimen represents the earliest associated remains of an early Tertiary passerine described so far. It ties the first appearance of Passeriformes in Europe to a minimum age of 30 million years. Passeriform birds are absent in Eocene deposits that yielded abundant remains of small land birds and apparently dispersed into Europe around the Eocene/Oligocene boundary (about 34 million years ago), not at the Oligocene/Miocene boundary (about 24 mya) as hitherto thought. This possibly relates the appearance of songbirds in Europe to a well-known major faunistic break at the Eocene/Oligocene boundary, called the “grande coupure”. The Frauenweiler songbird most notably differs from extant Passeriformes in having a larger processus procoracoideus on the coracoid and appears to be outside Eupasseres, the taxon which includes Oscines (all modern European and most Old World songbirds) and Suboscines (most South and Central American songbirds). It shows that there were earlier dispersal events of non-oscine songbirds into Europe before the arrival of Oscines from the Australian continental plate towards the late Oligocene.

Keywords

Eocene Oligocene Middle Eocene Caudal Margin Oscine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank M. Keller for donating the fossil specimen to Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, S. Tränkner for taking the photograph, and J. Clarke, R. Chandler, and two anonymous referees for comments on the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sektion OrnithologieForschungsinstitut Senckenberg Frankfurt-am-MainGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Biologie/ZoologieFU BerlinBerlinGermany

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