Schlagwort-Archive: Caprimulgiformes

A new Messel bird with exceptionally well-preserved feathers!

During the latest digging campaign in the Messel shale, a new bird fossil was found that has unimaginably well-preserved feathers – even by Messel standards, while the bones themselves are rather crumbly.


This bird reaches the size of a recent Great Tit (Parus major L.), it apparently had a short and broad beak and anisodactyl feet.

The feathers are exceptionally well-preserved and distinctly colored: the feathers on the head and neck are greyish brown with reddish brown tips; the rump feathers are dark ashy brown; the primary coverts of the wing are straw yellow, the primaries are reddish brown with a purplish hue; the tail feathers (at least 10) are nearly as long as the primaries, they are straw yellow and have a distinct reddish brown and dark brown stripy pattern not unlike as in recent birds of prey.

These are of course not the original colors of that bird, yet the patterns are! [1]


The fossil has only just been found, it hasn’t yet been prepared and has not even a collection number, thus there is not much that can be said about it, however, all in all this form reminds me on Hassiavis laticauda Mayr, a member of the family Archaeotrogonidae from the same locality, but it is of course much smaller and has proportionally less stout arm- and leg bones.



[1] Georgina Jadikovskaal: Fossil of unknown bird species resembling great tit found during dig at UNESCO site. Zenger News July 12, 2021


… just a quick sketch


edited: 09.08.2021

Fossil records of the Caprimulgiformes

Family incertae sedis

Palaeopsittacus georgei Harrison

Protocypselomorphus manfredkelleri Mayr


Archaeodromus anglicus Mayr [1]

Archaeotrogon cayluxensis Gaillard
Archaeotrogon hoffstetteri Mourer-Chauviré
Archaeotrogon nocturnus Mlíkovský
Archaeotrogon venustus Milne-Edwards
Archaeotrogon zitteli Gaillard

Hassiavis laticauda Mayr


Ventivorus ragei Mourer-Chauviré (?)


Eurofluvioviridavis robustipes Mayr

Fluvioviridavis platyrhamphus Mayr & Daniels



[1] G. Mayr: An early Eocene fossil from the British London Clay elucidates the evolutionary history of the enigmatic Archaeotrogonidae (Aves, Strisores). Papers in Palaeontology advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/spp2.1392. 2021


edited: 20.07.2021