Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 145, Issue 4, pp 281–286 | Cite as

A partial skeleton of a new fossil loon (Aves, Gaviiformes) from the early Oligocene of Germany with preserved stomach content

  • Gerald MayrEmail author
Original Article


A partial skeleton of a new fossil loon (Aves, Gaviiformes), ?Colymboides metzleri n.sp., is described from the early Oligocene (Rupelian) of Frauenweiler in Germany. The new species resembles the early Miocene species Colymboides minutus in size and overall morphology, but differs in several osteological details. The specimen represents the first associated remains of an early Tertiary loon. Preserved stomach content further provides the first direct evidence that early Tertiary loons were already specialized towards a piscivorous diet, hunting fishes in a marine environment.


Aves Gaviiformes Colymboides metzleri n. sp. Oligocene Diet 



I thank R. Böttcher (SMNS) for the loan of the fossil specimen, O. Vogel for its further preparation, and S. Tränkner for taking the photographs.


  1. Baumel JJ, Witmer LM (1993) Osteologia. In: Baumel JJ, King AS, Breazile JE, Evans HE, Vanden Berge JC (eds) Handbook of avian anatomy: Nomina anatomica avium. Publ Nuttall Ornithol Club 23:45–132Google Scholar
  2. Carboneras C (1992) Family Gaviidae (Divers). In: del Hoyo J, Elliott A, Sargatal J (eds) Handbook of the birds of the world, vol 1Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, pp 162–172Google Scholar
  3. Chatterjee S (1997) The rise of birds. John Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  4. Chatterjee S (2002) The morphology and systematics of Polarornis, a Cretaceous Loon (Aves: Gaviidae) from Antarctica. In: Zhou Z, Zhang F (eds) Proceedings of the 5th Symposium of the Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution, Beijing, 1–4 June 2000. Science Press, Beijing,.pp 125–155Google Scholar
  5. Cheneval J (1984) Les oiseaux aquatiques (Gaviiformes à Ansériformes) du gisement aquitanien de Saint-Gérand-le-Puy (Allier, France): Révision systématique. Palaeovertebrata 14:33–115Google Scholar
  6. Harrison CJO, Walker CA (1976) Birds of the British Upper Eocene. Zool J Linn Soc 59:323–351Google Scholar
  7. Legendre S, Lévêque F (1997) Etalonnage de l’échelle biochronologique mammalienne du Paléogène d’Europe occidentale: vers une intégration à l’échelle globale. In: Aguilar J-P, Legendre S, Michaux J (eds) Actes du Congrès BiochroM’97. Mém Trav EPHE Inst Montpellier 21:461–473Google Scholar
  8. Lydekker R (1891) Catalogue of the fossil birds in the British Museum (Natural History). British Museum (Natural History), LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Mayr G (2000) A new mousebird (Coliiformes: Coliidae) from the Oligocene of Germany. J Ornithol 141:85–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Mayr G (2004a) Morphological evidence for sister group relationship between flamingos (Aves: Phoenicopteridae) and grebes (Podicipedidae). Zool J Linn Soc 140:157–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Mayr G (2004b) Old World fossil record of modern-type hummingbirds. Science 304:861–864CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Mayr G, Manegold A (2004) The oldest European fossil songbird from the early Oligocene of Germany. Naturwissenschaften 91:173–177CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Mayr G, Smith R (2002) Avian remains from the lowermost Oligocene of Hoogbutsel (Belgium). Bull Inst R Sci Nat Belg 72:139–150Google Scholar
  14. Mayr G, Peters DS, Rietschel, S (2002) Petrel-like birds with a peculiar foot morphology from the Oligocene of Germany and Belgium (Aves: Procellariiformes). J Vert Paleontol 22:667–676Google Scholar
  15. Micklich N, Parin N (1996) The fishfauna of Frauenweiler (Middle Oligocene, Rupelian; Germany): First results of a review. Publ Espec Inst Esp Oceanogr 21:129–148Google Scholar
  16. Milne-Edwards A (1867–1871) Recherches anatomiques et paléontologiques pour servir à l’histoire des oiseaux fossiles de la France. Masson, ParisGoogle Scholar
  17. Mlíkovský J (1996) Tertiary avian localities of the United Kingdom. In: Mlíkovský J (ed) Tertiary avian localities of Europe. Acta Univ Carol 39:759–771Google Scholar
  18. Mlíkovský J (2002) Cenozoic birds of the world. Part 1: Europe. Ninox, PrahaGoogle Scholar
  19. Olson SL (1992) Neogaeornis wetzeli Lambrecht, a Cretaceous loon from Chile (Aves: Gaviidae). J Vert Paleontol 12:122–124Google Scholar
  20. Olson SL, Rasmussen PC (2001) Miocene and Pliocene birds from the Lee Creek Mine, North Carolina. In: Ray CE, Bohaska DJ (eds) Geology and paleontology of the Lee Creek Mine, North Carolina, III. Smithson Contrib Paleobiol 90:233–365Google Scholar
  21. Shufeldt RW (1915) Fossil birds in the Marsh Collection of Yale University. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  22. Sibley CG, Ahlquist JE (1990) Phylogeny and classification of birds: a study in molecular evolution. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  23. Storer RW (1956) The fossil loon, Colymboides minutus. Condor 58:413–426Google Scholar
  24. Švec P (1980) Lower Miocene birds from Dolnice (Cheb basin), western Bohemia. Cas Mineral Geol 25:377–387Google Scholar
  25. Švec P (1982) Two new species of diving birds from the Lower Miocene of Czechoslovakia. Cas Mineral Geol 27:243–260Google Scholar
  26. Trunkó L, Munk W (1998) Geologische Beobachtungen in drei tertiären Aufschlußkomplexen im Randbereich des Mittleren Rheingrabens. Carolinea 56:9–28Google Scholar
  27. Tuinen M van, Butvill DB, Kirsch JAW, Hedges SB (2001) Convergence and divergence in the evolution of aquatic birds. Proc R Soc Lond B 268:1345–1350CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Wetmore A (1940) Fossil bird remains from Tertiary deposits in the United States. J Morphol 66:25–37Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V.  2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sektion für OrnithologieForschungsinstitut SenckenbergFrankfurt am MainGermany

Personalised recommendations