Sunday 23 March 2014

A preserved Passerine Bird’s foot from the late Oligocene of Poland.

Passerines (Perching Birds) are the most numerous and successful group of Birds in the modern world, with over half of all known Bird species being Passerines, including Finches, Thrushes, Sparrows, Warblers and Crows. Despite their success the group do not have an extensive fossil record, largely due to their small and delicate bones. The oldest putative Passerine fossils are from the early Eocene of Australia.

In a paper published in the journal Palaeontologica Electronica on 27 January 2014, Zbigniew Bochenski and Teresa Tomek of the Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Ewa Swidnicka of the Department of Palaeozoology at the University of Wrocław, describe the preserved foot of a Passerine Bird preserved as part and counterpart on shale slabs from the late Oligocene Menilite Formation of the Outer Carpathians in southeastern Poland, dated to about 25 million years old.

The specimen comprises the entire foot and lower leg of a Passerine Bird, roughly 15 mm in length. It is not formally described as a new species, as the isolated foot of a Passerine Bird is not considered to be sufficient for species identification, although it is not thought to belong to any of the (few) known Oligocene Bird species.

Foot of a passerine bird foot from southeastern Poland, Hłudno, late Oligocene, approximately 25 million years old. (1) Main slab; (2),Counter slab; (3) Interpretative drawings of the main slab and counter slab. Abbreviations: (d) I, pp – digit I, proximal phalanx; d I, up – digit I, ungual phalanx; d II, p1 – digit II, phalanx 1; d II, p2 – digit II, phalanx 2; d II, up – digit II, ungual phalanx; d III, p1 – digit III, phalanx 1; d III, p2 – digit III, phalanx 2; d III, p3 – digit III, phalanx 3; d III, up – digit III, ungual phalanx; d IV, p1 – digit IV, phalanx 1; d IV, p2 – digit IV, phalanx 2; d IV, p3 – digit IV, phalanx 3; d IV, p4 – digit IV, phalanx 4; d IV, up – digit IV, ungual phalanx; omt I – os metatarsale I; tmt – tarsometatarsus; tbt – tibiotarsus (fragment of the condylus lateralis). Bochenski et al. (2014).

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