Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 154, Issue 3, pp 775–782 | Cite as

Earliest northeastern Atlantic Ocean basin record of an auk (Charadriiformes, Pan-Alcidae): fossil remains from the Miocene of Germany

  • N. Adam Smith
  • Gerald Mayr
Original Article


Newly discovered fossil remains of an auk (Aves, Charadriiformes) extend the temporal range of Pan-Alcidae in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean basin and the geographic range of the clade during the Miocene. The new specimen consists of a partial ulna and a radius of a single individual. It represents the earliest fossil auk from the northeastern Atlantic Ocean basin and the first fossil remains of an auk reported from Germany. The specimen is from a moderately sized auk similar to the extant Razorbill Alca torda, which it also resembles in morphological features. A definitive taxonomic referral of the fossil is not possible, but the presence of Alca in the Miocene of the northeastern Atlantic Ocean basin would be congruent with the occurrence of this taxon in the northwestern Atlantic at the same time.


Alcinae Alcini Aves Avian evolution Fossil seabirds Paleodiversity 


Frühester Nachweis eines Alkenvogels (Charadriiformes, Pan-Alcidae) im nordöstlichen Atlantik: Fossilreste aus dem Miozän Deutschlands

Kürzlich entdeckte Fossilreste eines Alken (Aves, Charadriiformes) erweitern das bekannte zeitliche Vorkommen der Pan-Alcidae im nordöstlichen Atlantik und das geographische Verbreitungsgebiet der Gruppe während des Miozäns. Das neue Exemplar besteht aus einem Ulnafragment und einem Radius eines einzigen Individuums. Es stellt den ältesten fossilen Alken aus dem Nordostatlantik dar und den ersten Fossilrest eines Alken aus Deutschland. Das Exemplar ist von einem Alk mittlerer Größe, ähnlich dem heutigen Tordalk Alca torda, dem es auch in morphologischen Merkmalen ähnelt. Eine endgültige taxonomische Einordnung des Fossils ist nicht möglich, aber das Vorkommen von Alca im Miozän des Nordost-Atlantiks wäre in Übereinstimmung mit dem Nachweis des Taxons im nordwestlichen Atlantik zur selben Zeit.



We thank Hartmut Schiek for donating the specimen to Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Sven Tränkner for photographing the specimen, N.D. Smith and J.R. Stewart for comments and suggestions that improved the manuscript, and J. Gerwin and B. O’Shea at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for access to comparative material. N.A.S. was supported by a National Evolutionary Synthesis Center Postdoctoral Fellowship (National Science Foundation EF-0905606).


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The National Evolutionary Synthesis CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Senckenberg ForschungsinstitutSektion für OrnithologieFrankfurt am MainGermany

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