Schlagwort-Archive: Germany

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.

*********************

References:

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

*********************

Photo: Ghedoghedo

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

*********************

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

*********************

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 ….

*********************

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).   

*********************

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

*********************

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.

*********************

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

***

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!   🙂

***

Take 2.:

***

Take 3.:

*********************

edited: 26.01.2019; 27.01.2019

Psittacopes lepidus Mayr & Daniels

*********************

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!  

*********************  

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  

*********************  

edited: 14.11.2017; 17.09.2018

A small bird with a ‘large’ name: take 2

Rupelramphastoides knopfi Mayr  

Well, the head appears to have also been found, yet in another specimen, so here’s the reconstruction after measuring the skull.:

*********************

It does not really differ that much from the previous version.:    

*********************

*********************

References:

[1] Gerald Mayr: A tiny barbet-like bird from the Lower Oligocene of Germany: the smallest species and earliest substantial fossil record of the Pici (woodpeckers and allies). The Auk 122(4): 1-9. 2005 
[2] Gerald Mayr: Avian Evolution: The Fossil Record of Birds and its Paleobiological Significance. Wiley-Blackwell 2016

*********************

edited: 18.07.2017