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Pumiliornis tessellatus
Temporal range: Middle Eocene
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Subclass: incertae sedis
Genus: Pumiliornis
G. Mayr, 1999
Species: P. tessellatus
Binomial name
Pumiliornis tessellatus
G.Mayr 1999

Pumiliornis tessellatus is an ancient bird from the Middle Eocene of Messel, Hesse, Germany. It is described as a wren-sized[1] anisodactyl bird with a long, slender bill and strong hallux. Its species name tessellatus, meaning "mosaic" in Latin, is a reference to its unusual distribution of characters and uncertain phylogenetic placement.[2][3] It has some anatomical affinities with Cuculiformes, but similar fossils that might be related to this taxon do not.[4]

In 2014, a new specimen of Pumiliornis was described that showed preserved stomach contents of pollen grains from a eudicotyledonous angiosperm, making it the earliest fossil evidence of flower-visiting behavior in birds.[5]


  1. ^ Mayr, Gerald (2008). "Pumiliornis tessellatus MAYR, 1999 revisited - new data on the osteology and possible phylogenetic affinities of an enigmatic Middle Eocene bird". Palfontologische Zeitschrift. 82/3: 247–253. doi:10.1007/BF02988891. 
  2. ^ Mayr, Gerald (1999). "Pumiliornis tessellatus n. gen. n. sp., a new enigmatic bird from the Middle Eocene of Grube Messel (Hessen, Germany)" (PDF). Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg. 216: 75–83. 
  3. ^ Mayr, Gerald (2009). Paleogene Birds. Springer. pp. 114–116. ISBN 978-3540896272. 
  4. ^ Mayr, Gerald (2009). Paleogene Fossil Birds. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 115. ISBN 9783540896289. 
  5. ^ Mayr, Gerald; Wilde, Volker (2014). "Eocene fossil is earliest evidence of flower-visiting by birds". Biology Letters. 10 (5): 20140223. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2014.0223. PMC 4046380Freely accessible. PMID 24872461.