A new species of woodpecker (Aves; Picidae) from the early Miocene of Saulcet (Allier, France)

  • Vanesa L. De PietriEmail author
  • Albrecht Manegold
  • Loïc Costeur
  • Gerald Mayr


We describe a new genus and species of woodpecker (Piciformes: Picidae), Piculoides saulcetensis, from the early Miocene (MN1–MN2) of Saulcet, in the “Saint-Gérand-le-Puy” area, central France, which is the earliest definite record of the family. The new species is represented solely by the distal end of a tarsometatarsus, which bears nonetheless diagnostic features that allowed us to place Piculoides saulcetensis in a phylogenetic context. Our results show that the fossil from Saulcet is either a stem-group representative of piculets (Picumninae) and true woodpeckers (Picinae) or of true woodpeckers only. Piculoides saulcetensis is similar to a fragmentary tarsometatarsus of a picid from the late Oligocene of southern Germany, and we thus hypothesize a close relationship between the two.


Piciformes Saulcet Saint-Gérand-le-Puy Piculoides Fossil birds Early Miocene 



We thank A. Louchart (École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Lyon, France) and C. Mourer-Chauviré (Université Claude Bernard, Lyon, France) for their thorough comments which improved this manuscript. We are grateful to James Dean and Christopher Milensky (Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Division of Birds, for providing us with photographic material of Sasia abnormis. We also thank Sven Tränkner (Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut Frankfurt) for taking photographs d, i, n, q, and r of Fig. 2. We express our gratitude to Christian Meyer (Natural History Museum Basel) for allowing VLD to work on the fossil collection, and Marcel Güntert (Natural History Museum Bern) for providing us with useful information on extant Piciformes. AM is supported by the German Science Foundation (DFG MA 4809/1-1).


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Copyright information

© Akademie der Naturwissenschaften Schweiz (SCNAT) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vanesa L. De Pietri
    • 1
    Email author
  • Albrecht Manegold
    • 2
  • Loïc Costeur
    • 3
  • Gerald Mayr
    • 2
  1. 1.Naturhistorisches Museum der Burgergemeinde BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut, Sektion für OrnithologieFrankfurt am MainGermany
  3. 3.Naturhistorisches Museum BaselBaselSwitzerland

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