Oldest hummingbird fossils found in Germany
4 August 2005, KARLSRUHE, GERMANY - Fossils of the world's oldest known modern hummingbird with feathers have been unearthed in Germany, experts said Thursday.
4 August 2005
KARLSRUHE, GERMANY - Fossils of the world's oldest known modern hummingbird with feathers have been unearthed in Germany, experts said Thursday.
The find was made in the same region of the Black Forest in southern Germany where two featherless-hummingbird fossils were found in May, the first discovery of ancient skeletons of the tiny nectar-sucking bird outside the American continent.
But the new discovery marks the first time that a prehistoric hummingbird with feathers has been found, said Karlsruhe Museum of Natural History director Volkmar Wirth.
He said the 5-cm-long (2-inch) bird lived in what were then tropical rain forests 31 million years ago.
Like modern-day hummingbirds, it had a long beak that it used to suck nectar from flowers, and wings allowing it to hover while feeding.
The next oldest modern hummingbird fossils, one million years old, have been found in South America. But they had no feathers.
The fossil was unearthed near the village of Wiesloch in the Black Forest region of southern Germany.
The skeleton shows characteristics of modern hummingbirds, including their tiny size, their upper arm bone, and long beaks, which are 2.5 times larger than their craniums.
The skeleton also had shoulders that would have allowed the wings to rotate, a key feature that gives hummingbirds their ability to hover and even fly backward.
Subject: German news