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Pumiliornis tessellatus
Temporal range: Middle Eocene
Scientific classification

G. Mayr, 1999
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". Paläontologische 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 4046380. PMID 24872461.