Archiv der Kategorie: 4. Eozän

FMNH PA789

This is a small bird from the Eocene of Wyoming, USA, it was only about 10 cm long and is so far known from a complete skeleton with most of the feathers preserved as well.

The bird is not yet described but is apparently currently under study, it may turn out to be related to Morsoravis sedilis Bertelli, Lindow, Dyke & Chiappe, and to belong into a new family, probably named the Morsorornithidae or alike, which then again are perhaps somehow related to the mousebird/parrot/songbird ‘orbit’.

The reconstruction shows it while somewhat stretching its left wing, it was ‘fun’ to draw all this wing feathers, and I probably will do that NEVER EVER AGAIN!!!   😉

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A little update here:

This bird is now apparently included into the genus Morsoravis. [2]

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References:

[1] Lance Grande: The Lost World of Fossil Lake: Snapshots from Deep Time. University of Chicago Press 2013
[2] Daniel T. Ksepka; Lance Grande; Gerald Mayr: Oldest finch-beaked birds reveal parallel ecological radiations in the earliest evolution of passerines. Current Evolution 29(4): 657-663. 2019

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edited: 23.01.2018; 07.12.2019

A kingfisher-like bird from Messel – Quasisyndactylus longibrachis Mayr

This tiny bird is thought to be the ancestor of the kingfishers or of the todies, or of both.

Quasisyndactylus longibrachis was very small, only about 10 cm long, its legs were quite long, very much like in today’s todies (Todidae) and its feet were syndactyl (that means two of the toes, toes 3 and 4, are fused together), like those of all known Coraciiformes showing that it was a member of that order.

The species is known from several specimens, some of which also still harbor their feathering, showing that this species had rather roundish wings and a rather long tail.

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References:

[1] G. Mayr: „Coraciiforme“ und „piciforme“ Kleinvögel aus dem Mittel-Eozän der Grube Messel (Hessen, Deutschland). Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Band 205. 1998

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Photo: Ghedoghedo

(under creative commons license (3.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

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my reconstruction, following a specimen with well preserved feathers; it’s only a sketch so far

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edited: 05.11.2019; 06.11.2019

Perplexicervix microcephalon Mayr

This species was described in 2010, it is known from five or six specimens found in the Messel shale, five of which include cervical vertebrae which again all bear strange small tubercles unknown in any other bird dead or alive.

The bird may or may not be related to the so-called screamers (Anhimidae), it had a quite small head compared to its body and had very large and strong wing bones, thus apparently was good at flying, its feet have short toes which appear to have been somewhat flattened – and my gut feeling tells me that they may have had been webbed ….

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a humble reconstruction, note that I forgot to draw the halluces (big toes) onto the feet

Vanolimicola longihallucis Mayr

This species was described in 2017, it is one of the many birds from the Messel shale, that are somehow related to living ones but on the other hand again … are completely different.  

This one is thought to be related to the Charadriiformes, and it may indeed have been a member of the jacana family (Jacanidae).   

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my reconstruction sketch, which turns out very much jacana-unlike

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BTW: I only recently learned that the age of the Messel shale spans from the upper Early – to the lower Middle Eocene.  

So not every bird from there is from the Middle Eocene.

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edited:

04.08.2019

Avian Musings – blog post from January 23, 2019

In his great blog (that I actually – and that’s no lie – look into at least once a week), Paul Cianfaglione writes about many bird-related things, including fine book reviews, very interesting insights into bird anatomy and everything else.

But his latest post is just unbeatable: he did make an extremely close inspection of a bird fossil from Messel that he owns.:

Messel Bird Fossil offers unique feather preservation, and more” from January 23, 2019

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I personally have never seen close-ups of a bird fossil that are so razor-sharp and detailed!

And his bird shows features not known in any living bird – at least not all of them together in one bird.:

The beak is very big and hooked like the beak of a bird of prey or a owl, and it appears to have had sensory pits, the body feathers appear somewhat hair-like, the wing coverts are fluffy, also probably somewhat like the feather edges of recent owls, and the primaries have extremely strange appendages not known in that way from any other bird, living or extinct, but somewhat reminding on the wings of a waxwing.

What kind of a bird was that?

Well, I could try to do a reconstruction, should I?

That is just a doodle, maybe I have more time tomorrow to make a complete drawing.

Gosh, this is so exciting!   🙂

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Take 2.:

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Take 3.:

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edited: 26.01.2019; 27.01.2019

Psittacopes lepidus Mayr & Daniels

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When this tiny creature was first described it was thought to represent some parent form of the parrot order, however, it later [1] was reinvestigated and is now placed near the Passeriformes … near them, not among or in between them!  

My reconstruction is life sized, the bird here is nearly 12 cm long, the feathers, however, are not known, so are completely speculative!  

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References:

[1] Gerald Mayr: A reassessment of Eocene parrotlike fossils indicates a previously undetected radiation of zygodactyl stem group representatives of passerines (Passeriformes). Zoologica Scripta 44(6): 587–602. 2015  

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edited: 14.11.2017; 17.09.2018

Morsoravis sedilis Bertelli, Lindow, Dyke & Chiappe

This bird was described in 2010, it was then thought to be somehow related to the Charadriiformes respectively to the Charadriiformes “orbit”, later it was assumed to belong in some kind of relationship with other likewise “well-known” birds like Eocuculus cherpinae (Chandler), or Pumiliornis tessellatus Mayr.

The reconstruction shows a tiny bird, some 12 cm long, with a sharp-pointed beak and a quite long neck, such a bird would have needed long tail feathers to stabilize its body – so I just gave it a long tail, cause the feathers are not preserved in the Fur Formation birds.

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So here is how all begins, some cut-out bone drawings put together, lines made with a pencil etc..:

some puzzling

The final result is a quite life-like bird, maybe I got enough time to make a real painting, with colors and so on ….:

not charadriiform-alike at all

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References:

[1] Sara Bertelli; Bent K. Lindow; Gareth J. Dyke; Luis M. Chiappe: A well-preserved ‘charadriform-like’ fossil bird from the Early Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark. Paleontology 53(3): 507-531. 2010
[2] Gerald Mayr: On the osteology and phylogenetic affinitis of Morsoravis sedilis (Aves) from the early Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark. Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark 59: 23-35. 2011

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edited: 22.01.2018

‘Neanis’ kistneri (Feduccia)

‘Neanis’ kistneri, the genus name written in quotation marks, because the bird does not belong into the genus Neanis, which otherwise includes a single species, Neanis schucherti Shufeldt, is a probable member of order Piciformes, and may be somewhat related to the family Galbulidae.

The species is known so far from a single, nearly complete skeleton, and, like so many Eocene birds, it was a dwarf.

This, of course, is just a sketch.

Songzia spp.

This genus currently contains two species, which mainly differ by their size, Songzia acutunguis Wang et al. and the slightly smaller Songzia heidangkouensis Hou.

These two species have much in common with the recent species of the rail family, yet may not be related to them, but may be closer to the extinct Messel ‘Rails’, the Messelornithidae, which themselves may or may not be members of the Gruiformes.

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The two Songzia ‘Rails’ are small, sparrow-sized birds, in life they probably inhabited the margins of lakes and other swampy areas.

The picture is just a sketch.

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Feather impressions are not known to my knowledge, however, I thought it would be a good idea to give the bird somewhat elongated tail feathers, since the feather impressions in some messelornithid fossils show that these birds had very long tail feathers.

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source:

>Min Wang; Gerald Mayr; Jiangyong Zhang; Zhonghe Zhou: Two new skeletons of the enigmatic, rail-like avian taxon Songzia Hou, 1990 (Songziidae) from the early Eocene of China. Alcheringa: An Australian Journal of Palaeontology 36: 487-499. 2012