Old World Fossil Record of Modern-Type Hummingbirds

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Science  07 May 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5672, pp. 861-864
DOI: 10.1126/science.1096856

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I report on tiny skeletons of stem-group hummingbirds from the early Oligocene of Germany that are of essentially modern appearance and exhibit morphological specializations toward nectarivory and hovering flight. These are the oldest fossils of modern-type hummingbirds, which had not previously been reported from the Old World. The findings demonstrate that early hummingbird evolution was not restricted to the New World. They further suggest that bird–flower coevolution dates back to the early Oligocene and open another view on the origin of ornithophily in Old World plants.

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