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A new Eocene swift-like bird with a peculiar feathering




A new taxon of swift-like birds is described from the Middle Eocene of Messel (Germany). It is tentatively assigned to the extinct family Jungornithidae and exhibits a completely unexpected feathering, which contrasts sharply with that of recent swifts. The short and rounded wings clearly show that it was not adapted to gliding, but might have caught its prey by sallying flights from a perch. The tail of the new taxon is very long and the tail feathers are broad and nearly symmetrical. The phylogenetic relationships between the Jungornithidae and other apodiform birds are still not convincingly resolved. The early Oligocene genus Jungornis itself shares unique derived characters with hummingbirds which are, however, absent in the Eocene genus Argornis and in the new taxon from Messel.