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Keywords:

  • Fossil birds;
  • Dasornis;
  • Odontopteryx;
  • Colymbiculus udovinchenkoi gen. et sp. nov

Abstract:  We describe avian remains from Novopskov, a new middle Eocene marine locality in Ukraine. The fossils constitute the most substantial collection of Palaeogene bird bones from Eastern Europe and contribute to a better knowledge of the Paratethyan seabird fauna. Most of the specimens belong to Pelagornithidae (bony-toothed birds), and two species of very different size can be distinguished. The larger of these is tentatively referred to Dasornis sp., the smaller to Odontopteryx toliapica. The specimens include skeletal elements that were not described for Palaeogene bony-toothed birds and document previously unknown morphological differences between Palaeogene and Neogene Pelagornithidae. It is argued that the purported crane Eobalearica tugarinovi, from the middle Eocene of Kyrgyzstan, is probably also a bony-toothed bird. A new genus and species of small Gaviiformes, Colymbiculus udovinchenkoi, is described, which is the earliest fossil record of a loon from Europe, preceding the next oldest specimens by more than 10 myr. The Ukrainian fossils document profound differences between middle Eocene and extant marine avifaunas of Europe, and whereas the middle Eocene Paratethyan avifauna appears to have been similar to that of the North Sea with regard to pelagornithid diversity, the absence of prophaethontids and relative abundance of Gaviiformes may indicate faunistic differences concerning the remaining seabirds.