Paläontologische Zeitschrift

, Volume 84, Issue 3, pp 387–395 | Cite as

New specimens of the avian taxa Eurotrochilus (Trochilidae) and Palaeotodus (Todidae) from the early Oligocene of Germany

  • Gerald Mayr
  • Norbert Micklich
Research Paper


We describe new specimens of stem group representatives of Trochilidae (hummingbirds) and Todidae (todies) from the Rupelian of Frauenweiler in southern Germany. The hummingbird fossil constitutes the fourth record of Eurotrochilus inexpectatus. It consists only of wing and pectoral girdle elements, but shows the previously unknown crista deltopectoralis of the humerus, whose shape differs from modern hummingbirds. The carpometacarpus bears a well-developed processus intermetacarpalis, which is a further synapomorphy of Eurotrochilus and crown group Trochilidae. The disarticulated partial skeleton of the tody allows a definitive taxonomic assignment of the Frauenweiler species to Palaeotodus itardiensis Mourer-Chauviré, and likewise exhibits so far unknown osteological details, including the morphologies of the quadrate and scapula. We further comment on the exceptional taphonomy and preservation of avian fossils from the Frauenweiler clay pit, where terrestrial birds are represented only by small to very small species, whose skeletons are always strongly disarticulated.


Aves Fossil birds Rupelian Frauenweiler Taphonomy 


Wir beschreiben neue Exemplare von Stammgruppenvertretern der Trochilidae (Kolibris) und Todidae (Todis) aus dem Rupelton von Frauenweiler in Süddeutschland. Das Kolibrifossil ist der vierte Nachweis von Eurotrochilus inexpectatus. Es besteht nur aus Flügel- und Brustgürtelelementen, zeigt aber die bisher unbekannte Crista deltopectoralis des Humerus, deren Form sich von derjenigen moderner Kolibris unterscheidet. Der gut entwickelte Processus intermetacarpalis des Carpometacarpus stellt eine weitere Synapomorphie von Eurotrochilus und Kronengruppen-Trochilidae dar. Das disartikulierte Teilskelett des Todi erlaubt eine endgültige taxonomische Zuordnung der Frauenweiler-Art zu Palaeotodus itardiensis Mourer-Chauviré und weist ebenfalls bis jetzt unbekannte osteologische Details auf, einschließlich der Morphologien des Quadratums und der Scapula. Wir diskutieren darüber hinaus die ungewöhnliche Taphonomie und der Erhaltung der Vogelfossilien aus der Tongrube Frauenweiler, in welcher terrestrische Vögel nur durch kleine bis sehr kleine Arten repräsentiert sind, deren Skelette zudem immer stark zerfallen sind.


Aves fossile Vögel Rupelium Frauenweiler Taphonomie 



We thank Harald and Annette Oechsler for donating the Eurotrochilus specimen to SMNK, and Klaus Weiß for the excellent preparation of both fossils—without their tireless enthusiasm many of the Frauenweiler fossils would not have been unearthed. We further thank Dino Frey for the loan of the Eurotrochilus specimen, and Sven Tränkner for taking the photographs. Ludwig Hildebrandt made the new profilings, which established the base for a precise stratigraphic allocation of the fossils. Recent excavations in the Frauenweiler fossil site were funded by the National Geographic Society (8553-08). The comments of two anonymous reviewers improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Sektion OrnithologieFrankfurt a.M.Germany
  2. 2.Natural History DepartmentHessisches Landesmuseum DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany

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