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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019 / A diverse bird assemblage from the Ypresian of Belgium furthers knowledge of Early Eocene avifaunas of the North Sea Basin

Gerald Mayr and Thierry Smith (2019)

A diverse bird assemblage from the Ypresian of Belgium furthers knowledge of Early Eocene avifaunas of the North Sea Basin

Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie - Abhandlungen, 291(3):253-281 (29 pages).

We describe an assemblage of 54 avian bones from early Eocene marine sediments of the Ampe quarry near Egem in Belgium. The fossils belong to at least 20 species in more than 11 higher-level taxa. Well-identifiable specimens are assigned to the Odontopterygiformes, Galliformes, Messelornithidae, Apodiformes, Halcyornithidae, Leptosomiformes (cf.Plesiocathartes), and Coraciiformes (cf. Septencoracias). Further specimens are tentatively referred to the phaethontiform Prophaethontidae and to the Accipitridae, Masillaraptoridae, and Alcediniformes. The threedimensionally preserved fossils from Egem provide new data on the osteology of taxa that are otherwise mainly known from compression fossils with crushed bones. The material also includes specimens that further knowledge of the composition of early Eocene avifaunas of the North Sea Basin. The comparatively well-represented small galliform species is clearly distinguished from the early Eocene Gallinuloididae and most closely resembles Argillipes aurorum, a largely ignored galliform species from the London Clay. The tentatively identified fossils of Accipitridae and Alcediniformes would represent the earliest fossil records of these clades. The bird assemblage from Egem includes relatively few seabirds (Odontopterygiformes, cf. Prophaethontidae) and is dominated by remains of terrestrial species (Galliformes, Messelornithidae). Arboreal birds (Halcyornithidae, Leptosomiformes, cf. Alcediniformes, Coraciiformes) are less abundant and aerial insectivores (Apodiformes) very scarce, which either indicates a taphonomic bias in the composition of the avifauna or particular paleoenvironmental characteristics of the nearshore habitats in that area of the southern North Sea Basin.
Peer Review, International Redaction Board, Impact Factor, RBINS Collection(s)
Paleontology