MNT-11-7952

MNT-11-7952 is a remarkable fossil of an enigmatic bird with an exceptional preservation; imprints of the tail feathers preserved showing a bluish gray hue, the legs and feet still showing traces of their soft tissue.

This, however, is all that’s known so far, the two slabs contain nothing but the arse, sorry, the rump, the legs and the tail feathers.

The feathers are very long and narrow, reminding on the tail feathers of recent mousebirds (Coliiformes), yet the feet appear to be anisodactyl, unlike in any known mousebird, extinct or extant.

sketch of the whole fossil (I missed some of the feathers around the knee of the left leg)
sketch of the left leg

The fossil dates to the Middle Paleocene, thus has an age of 60 to 61 Millions of years, and in my opinion, my indeed be a Coliiform bird.

I’ll try to reconstruct this as much as possible. 🙂

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how this bird may have looked like, almost like a modern mousebird, yet with proportionally somewhat shorter tail feathers

Here is now a little sketchy try to reconstruct that bird, including its nearly 20 cm long tail feathers, it may have reached a total length of about 34 cm, which is very well within the size range of modern mousebirds!

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References:

[1] Gerald Mayr; Sophie Hervet; Eric Buffetaut: On the diverse and widely ignored Paleocene avifauna of Menat (Puy-de-Dôme, France): new taxonomic records and unusual soft tissue preservation. Geological Magazine: 1-13. 2018

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edited: 07.03.2019; 24.07.2019

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