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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019 / New Paleocene bird fossils from the North Sea Basin in Belgium and France

Gerald Mayr and Thierry Smith (2019)

New Paleocene bird fossils from the North Sea Basin in Belgium and France

Geologica Belgica, 22(1-2):35-46.

We describe new avian remains from Paleocene localities of Belgium and France. Four bones from the early to middle Selandian of Maret (Belgium) are among the earliest Cenozoic avian remains known from Europe and include the oldest temporally well constrained European records of the Gastornithidae, as well as tentative records of the palaeognathous Lithornithidae and the Ralloidea. A more comprehensive fossil assemblage from the middle Thanetian of Templeuve (France) contains multiple bones of the Lithornithidae as well as a record of the Pelagornithidae. Specimens from the latest Thanetian of Rivecourt-Petit Pâtis (France) are tentatively assigned to the Ralloidea and Leptosomiformes (cf. Plesiocathartes). Because of the fragmentary nature of the fossils, the taxonomic identity of a number of other specimens remains uncertain. We note, however, that Paleocene avifaunas of Europe and North America appear to have had different compositions and only a few taxa, such as the palaeognathous Lithornithidae, are known from both continents. This suggests that the very similar early Eocene avifaunas of Europe and North America are the result of early Cenozoic dispersal events.
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Paleontology