Fossil records of avian taxa

pages Rolf A. de By

Throughout the history of my website on avian taxonomy, I have received comments about the poor, inconsistent and incomplete treatment of taxa known only from fossil finds.  Especially Fred Ruhe has been a truely persistent advocate for taking up also an overview of these in the website.

So, here is a first attempt.  Fred has kindly agreed to provide me with the required data . . . and I have succumbed in the servile task of webbing the information.

Providing an overview of all avian fossil finds is a humungous task, about which in my ignorance I originally had simplistic ideas.  Paleo-ornithology is a wide field of research by itself, in which much more is known than the average amateur ornithologist, and who knows the occasional professional, might believe.  This provides the main motivation for these "fossil pages": to raise awareness for the fact that the list of modern bird species is the product of a long line of evolutionary processes, that many species have become extinct through time, and also that many species would still have been extant had man not appeared on planet Earth, in the last so many thousands of years.

After all, bird extinction is not a phenomenon of the last decades or centuries, but has shown to be closely linked with man's activities into prehistoric times.  Therefore, the year 1600, set as a divider date in my website between modern taxa and historic taxa, is an entirely arbitrary one.

So, in these pages one will find references to named taxa from fossil finds, all of which, obviously, are presumed to be extinct.  A set of pages will slowly emerge on general issues of paleo-ornithology; please, find them on the right under the heading of General.

We have chosen to first focus on fossil finds from the most recent historic period, the Quaternary, which includes the Pleistocene and Holocene.  The overview is arranged per family, and is made searchable on the right, under Quaternary period by family.  The taxa that we now include are those that have likely or possibly gone into extinction due to human influences, either directly (as game) or indirectly, by man's cattle and livestock or the diseases they brought with them.

Comments regarding contents of these pages should go to Fred Ruhe.

psitlep2.jpg (36002 bytes)
Psittacopes lepidus Mayr & Daniels 1998;
a species of parrot described from the
early mid-Eocene, roughly 45 Myrs ago, of Germany, in 1998.
  Gerald Mayr, Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Germany.


GENERAL
Introduction

QUATERNARY PERIOD BY FAMILY
Cassowaries and Allies
Dromornithidae
Aepyornithidae
Emeidae
Dinornithidae
Megapodes
Ducks and Allies
Hoopoes
Old World Cuckoos
Coucals
Parrots
Typical Owls
Owlet-Nightjars
Nightjars and Allies
Pigeons
Kagus
Rails
Aptornithidae
Snipe and Allies
Plovers and Allies
Hawks and Allies
Boobies
Herons
Ibises
Petrels and Allies
New Zealand Wrens
Crows and Allies
Starlings and Allies
Finches and Allies

 

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