Paleontological Journal

, Volume 47, Issue 11, pp 1282–1301 | Cite as

Another charadriiform-like bird from the lower Eocene of Denmark

  • S. Bertelli
  • B. E. K. Lindow
  • G. J. Dyke
  • G. Mayr


We describe an exceptionally well-preserved partial skeleton of a new bird from the early Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark. Like other fossils from these marine deposits, the partial skeleton is three-dimensionally preserved and articulated. This new Danish specimen consists of a skull, vertebral column, ribs, pelvis, and hindlimbs. Concerning characters of the pelvis, tibiotarsus and tarsometatarsus, the new fossil bears morphological affinities to charadriiform birds (shorebirds and relatives). A phylogenetic analysis of higher neomithine (modern birds) taxa also supports a close relationship between the new specimen and modern Charadriiformes. The morphologies of the skull and vertebrae, however, distinguish the new fossil from all recent charadriiform families.


Fossil birds Fur Formation Scandiavis Lower Eocene 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baumel, J.J. and Winner, L.M., Osteologia, in Handbook of Avian Anatomy: Nomina Anatomica Avium., Baumel, J.J., King, A.S., Breazile, J.E., et al., Eds., Publ. Nuttall Ornithol. Club, 1993, no. 23, Second ed., pp. 45–132.Google Scholar
  2. Bertelli, S., Lindow, B.E.K., Dyke, G.J., et al., A well-preserved “charadriiform-like” fossil bird from the Lower Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark, Palaeontology, 2010, vol. 53, pp. 507–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bertelli, S., Chiappe, L.M., and Mayr, G., A new Messel rail from the Early Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark (Aves, Messelornithidae), J. Syst. Palaeontol., 2011, vol. 9, pp. 551–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beyer Heilmann-Clausen, C.B. and Abrahamsen, N., Magnetostratigraphy of the Upper Paleocene-Lower Eocene deposits in Denmark, Newsl Stratigr., 2001, vol. 39, pp. 1–19.Google Scholar
  5. Cracraft, J., Phylogenetic relationships and trans antarctic biogeography of some gruiform birds, Geobios, 1982, vol. 6, pp. 393–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cracraft, J., The major clades of birds, in The Phytogeny and Classification of the Tetrapods. Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, Benton, M.J., Ed., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988, vol. 1, pp. 339–361.Google Scholar
  7. Dyke, G., Waterhouse, D.M., and Kristoffersen, A.V., Three new landbirds from the early Paleogene of Denmark, Bull. Geol. Soc. Denmark, 2004, vol. 51, pp. 77–85.Google Scholar
  8. Ericson, P.G.P, Anderson, C.L., Britton, T., et al., Diversification of Neoaves: integration of molecular sequence data and fossils, Biol. Lett., 2006, vol. 4, pp. 543–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. George, J.C. and Berger, A.J., Avian Myology, New York: Academic Press, 1966.Google Scholar
  10. Goloboff, P.A, Farris, J.S., and Nixon, K.C., TNT, a free program for phylogenetic analysis, Cladistics, 2008, vol. 24. pp. 774–786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hackett, S.J., Kimball, R.T, Reddy, S., et al., A phylogenomic study of birds reveals their evolutionary history, Science, 2008, vol. 320, pp. 1763–1768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hesse, A., Taxonomie der Ordnung Gruiformes (Aves) nach osteologischen morphologischen Kriterien unter besonderer Beriicksichtigung der Messelornithidae, Cour. Forsch. Senckenb., 1988, vol. 107, pp. 235–247.Google Scholar
  13. Hieronymus, T.L. and Witmer, L.M., Homology and evolution of avian compound rhamphoteca, Auk, 2010, vol. 127, pp. 590–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hope, S., A new species of Graculavus from the Cretaceous of Wyoming (Aves: Neornithes), Smiths. Contrib. Paleobiol., 1999, no. 89, pp. 261–266.Google Scholar
  15. Hope, S., The Mesozoic fossil record of Neornithes (modern birds), in Mesozoic Birds: Above the Heads of Dinosaurs, Chiappe, L.M. and Witmer, L.D., Eds., Berkeley: Univ. California Press, 2002, pp. 339–388.Google Scholar
  16. Kristoffersen, A.V., Lithornithid birds (Aves, Palaeognathae) from the Lower Palaeogene of Denmark, Geol. Mijnbouw, 1999, vol. 78, pp. 375–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kristoffersen, A.V., The avian diversity in the latest Paleocene-earliest Eocene Fur Formation, Denmark., Ph.D. Dissertation Thesis, Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen, 2002a.Google Scholar
  18. Kristoffersen, A.V., An early Paleogene trogon (Aves: Trogoniformes) from the Fur Formation, Denmark, J. Vertebr. Paleontol., 2002b, vol. 22, pp. 661–666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lemmrich, W. and Der Skleralring der Vogel, Jen. Zeitschr. Naturwiss., 1931, vol. 65, pp. 513–586.Google Scholar
  20. Leonard, L., van Tuinen, M., and Dyke, G.J., A new specimen of the fossil palaeognath Lithornis from the Earliest Palaeogene of Denmark, Amer. Mus. Novit., 2005, no. 3491, pp. 1–11.Google Scholar
  21. Lindow, B.E.K., The early evolution of modern birds: Fossil evidence from the Lower Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark, Ph.D. Dissertation Thesis, Dublin: National University of Ireland, 2007.Google Scholar
  22. Livezey, B.C. and Zusi, R.L., Higher-order phylogeny of modern birds (Theropoda, Aves: Neornithes) based on comparative anatomy: I-methods and characters, Bull. Carneg. Mus. Natur. Hist., 2006, no. 37, pp. 1–544.Google Scholar
  23. Manegold, A., Two additional synapomorphies of grebes Podicipedidae and flamingos Phoenicopteridae, Acta Ornithol., 2006, vol. 41, pp. 79–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mayr, G., Charadriiform birds from the early Oligocene of Céreste (France) and the Middle Eocene of Messel (Hessen, Germany), Geobios., 2000a, vol. 33, pp. 625–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mayr, G., A remarkable new “gruiform” bird from the Middle Eocene of Messel (Hessen, Germany), Paläontol. Zeitschr., 2000b, vol. 74, pp. 187–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mayr, G., A new specimen of Salmila robusta (Aves: Gruiformes: Salmilidae n. fam.) from the Middle Eocene of Messel), Paläontol. Zeitschr., 2002, vol. 76, pp. 305–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mayr, G., The phylogenetic relationships of the shoebill, Balaeniceps rex, J. Ornithol., 2003, vol. 144, pp. 157–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mayr, G., Morphological evidence for sister group relationship between flamingos (Aves: Phoenicopteridae) and grebes (Podicipedidae), Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 2004, vol. 140, pp. 157–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mayr, G., Tertiary plotopterids (Aves, Plotopteridae) and a novel hypothesis on the phylogenetic relationships of penguins (Spheniscidae), J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 2005. vol. 43, pp. 61–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mayr, G., Avian higher-level phylogeny: well-supported clades and what we can learn from a phylogenetic analysis of 2954 morphological characters, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 2008, vol. 46, pp. 63–72.Google Scholar
  31. Mayr, G., Paleogene Fossil Birds, Heidelberg: Springer, 2009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mayr, G., Reappraisal of Eocypselus-a stem group representative of apodiform birds from the early Eocene of Northern Europe, Palaeobiodiv. Palaeoenv., 2010, vol. 90, pp. 395–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mayr, G., The phylogeny of charadriiform birds (shorebirds and allies)-reassessing the conflict between morphology and molecules, Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 2011a, vol. 161, pp. 916–934.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mayr, G., On the osteology and phylogenetic affinities of Morsoravis sedilis (Aves) from the early Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark, Bull. Geol. Soc. Denmark, 2011b, vol. 59, pp. 23–35.Google Scholar
  35. Mayr, G., Metaves, Mirandornithes, Strisores, and other novelties-a critical review of the higher-level phylogeny of neornithine birds, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 2011c, vol. 49, pp. 58–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mayr, G. and Bertelli, S., A record of Rhynchaeites (Aves, Threskiornithidae) from the early Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark, and the affinities of the alleged parrot Miopsitta, Palaeobiodiv. Palaeoenv., 2011, vol. 91, pp. 229–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mayr, G. and Clarke, J., The deep divergences of neornithine birds; a phylogenetic analysis of morphological characters, Cladistics, 2003, vol. 19, pp. 527–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mayr, G. and Knopf, C., A stem lineage representative of buttonquails from the Lower Oligocene of Germany-fossil evidence for a charadriiform origin of the Turnicidae, Ibis, 2007, vol. 149, pp. 774–782.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mayr, G., Manegold, A., and Johansson, U., Monophyletic groups within “higher land birds”-comparison of morphological and molecular data, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 2003, vol. 41, pp. 233–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McKitrick, M.C., Phylogenetic analysis of avian hindlimb musculature, Miscell. Publ. Univ. Michigan., 1991, no. 179, pp. 1–85.Google Scholar
  41. Olson, S.L., The fossil record of birds, in Avian Biology, Farner, D.S, King, J.R, and Parkes, K.C., Eds., New York: Academic Press, 1985, vol. 8, pp. 79–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Olson, S.L., Early Eocene birds from the eastern North America: a faunule from the Nanjemoy Formation of Virginia, Publ. Virginia Div. Min. Res., 1999, no. 152, pp. 123–132.Google Scholar
  43. Olson, S.L. and Parris, C.D., The Cretaceous birds of New Jersey, Smiths. Contrib. Paleobiol., 1987, no. 63, pp. 1–22.Google Scholar
  44. Strauch, J.G., The phylogeny of the Charadriiformes (Aves): a new estimate using the method of character compatibility analysis, Trans. Zool Soc. London, 1978, vol. 34, pp. 263–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Bertelli
    • 1
  • B. E. K. Lindow
    • 2
  • G. J. Dyke
    • 3
  • G. Mayr
    • 4
  1. 1.Fundacioń Miguel Lillo-CONICETTucumańArgentina
  2. 2.Geological MuseumNatural History Museum of DenmarkCopenhagen KDenmark
  3. 3.Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography CentreUniversity of Southampton Waterfront CampusSouthamptonUK
  4. 4.Forschungsinstitut SenckenbergSektion OrnithologieFrankfurt am MainGermany

Personalised recommendations