Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 155, Issue 2, pp 421–426 | Cite as

The earliest European record of a Stone-curlew (Charadriiformes, Burhinidae) from the late Oligocene of France

  • Vanesa L. De Pietri
  • R. Paul Scofield
Original Article


We describe novel material of a small fossil burhinid (Stone-curlew, thick-knee; Aves: Charadriiformes) from the late Oligocene (ca 23 Ma) of Coderet-Bransat in the Allier Basin of central France. This site is one of the renowned Saint-Gérand-le-Puy fossil localities, which have yielded thousands of fossil bird specimens. This is the first record of the Burhinidae to be described from Paleogene and Neogene deposits of Europe, and, together with the late Oligocene–early Miocene burhinid from Australia, are the earliest records worldwide. Although Genucrassum bransatensis gen. et sp. nov. differs from extant burhinids in some presumably plesiomorphic features of the humerus and carpometacarpus, we show that the postcranial elements considered here are remarkably uniform within Burhinidae even in late Oligocene taxa.


Genucrassum bransatensis gen. et sp. nov. Coderet-Bransat Saint-Gérand-le-Puy Fossil birds Thick-knees Burhinus 


Frühester Nachweis eines Triels (Charadriiformes, Burhinidae) in Europa aus dem spät-Oligozän Frankreichs

Wir beschreiben neues Material eines kleinen fossilen Triels (Burhinidae, Charadriiformes) aus dem späten-Oligozän (ca 23 Ma) von Coderet-Bransat im Allier Becken in Zentral-Frankreich. Diese Fossil-Lokalität gehört zu den renommierten Saint-Gérand-le-Puy-Fossilfundstellen, welche tausende von fossilen Vogelreste geliefert haben. Das neue Fossil ist der erste Nachweis von Burhinidae in paläogenen und neogenen Ablagerungen Europas, und zusammen mit einem Triel aus dem späten-Oligozän/frühen-Miozän Australiens, stellt es den weltweit frühesten Nachweis dar. Obwohl Genucrassum bransatensis gen. et sp. nov. anhand mutmasslich plesiomorphe Merkmale am Humerus und Carpometacarpus von den Rezenten Burhiniden differenziert werden kann, zeigen wir, dass die untersuchten post-cranialen Elemente bemerkenswert einheitlich innerhalb der Burhinidae sind, und dies sogar in Taxa aus dem späten Oligozän.



We thank L. Costeur, M. Schneider, and C. Mourer-Chauviré for their help with the material and locality, and G. Mayr for access to extant specimens and for comments on the manuscript. We are grateful to J. Nguyen for providing photographic material of Esacus magnirostris, and W.E. Boles for making the MS thesis on the Australian burhinid (Hofheins 1994, unpublished) available to us. A review by C. Mourer-Chauviré helped improve the manuscript.


  1. Baker AJ, Pereira SL, Paton TA (2007) Phylogenetic relationships and divergence times of Charadriiformes genera: multigene evidence for the Cretaceous origin of at least 14 clades of shorebirds. Biol Lett 3:205–209PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baumel JJ, Witmer L (1993) Osteologia. In: Baumel JJ, Kings AS, Breazile JE, Evans HE, Vanden Berge JC (eds) Handbook of avian anatomy: nomina anatomica avium. Nuttall Ornithol Club, Cambridge, pp 45–132Google Scholar
  3. Bickart KJ (1981) A new thick-knee, Burhinus, from the Miocene of Nebraska, with comments on the habitat requirements of the Burhinidae (Aves: Charadriiformes). J Vertebr Paleontol 1:273–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brodkorb P (1967) Catalogue of fossil birds: part 3 (Ralliformes, Ichthyornithiformes, Charadriiformes). Bull Fla Mus Nat Hist Biol Sci 11:99–220Google Scholar
  5. Chu PC (1995) Phylogenetic reanalysis of Strauch’s osteological data set for the Charadriiformes. Condor 97:174–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. de Bonis L, Peigné S, Hugueney M (1999) Carnivores féloïdes de l’Oligocène supérieur de Coderet-Bransat (Allier, France) [Feloid carnivores from the upper Oligocene of Coderet-Bransat, Allier, France]. Bull Soc Géol Fr 70:939–949Google Scholar
  7. De Pietri VL, Mayr G (2012) An assessment of the diversity of early Miocene Scolopaci (Aves, Charadriiformes) from Saint-Gérand-le-Puy (Allier, France). Palaeontology 55:1177–1197Google Scholar
  8. De Pietri VL, Costeur L, Güntert M, Mayr G (2011) A revision of the Lari (Aves, Charadriiformes) from the early Miocene of Saint-Gérand-le-Puy (Allier, France). J Vert Paleont 31:812–828CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. De Pietri VL, Güntert M, Mayr G (2013) A Haematopus-like skull and other remains of Charadrii (Aves, Charadriiformes) from the early Miocene of Saint-Gérand-le-Puy (Allier, France). In: Göhlich UB, Kroh A (eds) Proceedings volume of the 8th International Meeting of the Society of Avian Palaeontology and Evolution. Naturhistorisches Museum WienGoogle Scholar
  10. del Hoyo J, Elliott A, Sargatal J (1996) Handbook of the birds of the world, vol 3. Lynx, BarcelonaGoogle Scholar
  11. Feduccia A (1980) A thick-knee (Aves: Burhinidae) from the Pleistocene of North America, and its bearing on ice age climates. Cont Sci Nat His Mus LA City 330:115–118Google Scholar
  12. Gradstein FM, Ogg JG, Schmitz MD, Ogg GM (eds) (2012) The geologic time scale 2012. Elsevier, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Hugueney M (1969) Les Rongeurs de l’Oligocène supérieur de Coderet-Bransat (Allier). Doc Labo Géol Fac Sci Lyon 34:1–227Google Scholar
  14. Huxley TH (1867) On the classification of birds; and on the taxonomic value of the modifications of certain of the cranial bones observable in the class. Proc Zool Soc Lond 1867:415–472Google Scholar
  15. Illiger JCW (1811) Prodromus Systematis Mammalium et Avium additis terminis zoographicis utriusque classis, eorumque versione Germanica. Berolini, Sumptibus C. SalfeldGoogle Scholar
  16. Lesson RP (1830–31) Traité d’Ornithologie ou Tableau Méthodique. F.G. Levrault, ParisGoogle Scholar
  17. Linnaeus C (1758) Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis, 10th edn, 2 vols. L Salmii, HolmiaeGoogle Scholar
  18. Livezey BC (2010) Phylogenetics of modern shorebirds (Charadriiformes) based on phenotypic evidence: analysis and discussion. Zool J Linn Soc 160:567–618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mathews GM (1913) Birds of Australia, vol 3. Whitherby, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Mayr G (2009) Paleogene fossil birds. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mayr G (2011) The phylogeny of charadriiform birds (shorebirds and allies)––reassessing the conflict between morphology and molecules. Zool J Linn Soc 161:916–934CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Olson SL (1985) The fossil record of birds. In: Farner DS, King JR, Parkes KC (eds) Avian biology, vol 8. Academic, New York, pp 79–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Paton TA, Baker AJ (2006) Sequences from 14 mitochondrial genes provide a well-supported phylogeny of the charadriiform birds congruent with the nuclear RAG-1 tree. Mol Phylogen Evol 39:657–667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Paton TA, Baker AJ, Groth JG, Barrowclough GF (2003) RAG-1 sequences resolve phylogenetic relationships within charadriiform birds. Mol Phylogen Evol 29:268–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Schmidt-Kittler N (ed) (1987) International Symposium on Mammalian Biostratigraphy and Paleoecology of the European Paleogene, Mainz, February 18th-21st, F. PfeilGoogle Scholar
  26. Strauch J (1978) The phylogeny of the Charadriiformes (Aves): a new estimate using the method of character compatibility analysis. Trans Zool Soc Lond 34:263–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Turland M, Gentilhomme P, Duthou JL, D’Arcy D, Carroué JP, Debeglia N (1991) Notice explicative, Carte Géol France (1/50000), Feuille Montmarault (620). BRGM, OrléansGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sektion für OrnithologieSenckenberg ForschungsinstitutFrankfurt am MainGermany
  2. 2.Canterbury MuseumChristchurchNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations