Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt


The tenth skeleton of the Jurassic urvogel Archaeopteryx from the Solnhofen area in Germany (Mayr et al. 2005)


Scaniacypselus szarskii, a swift from the Eocene of Messel in Germany (Mayr & Peters 1999)  


A skeleton of the oldest known galliform bird, Gallinuloides wyomingensis, from the North American Green River Formation (Mayr & Weidig 2004)

The research focus of the section is on the early evolution and higher-level phylogeny of birds.

In the past years, more than 90 new species of fossil birds were described from Paleogene (65-25 million years ago) deposits. Among these are numerous avian groups new to science, whose description extended the known diversity of the Paleogene avifauna. Many of these fossils further contributed to a better understanding of the evolution and historical biogeography of extant groups of birds.

In order to assess the phylogenetic affinities of these birds, the higher level phylogeny of extant birds also constitutes a research focus. New and meanwhile widely accepted phylogenetic hypotheses concern the affinities of, for example, owlet-nightjars (Aegothelidae) (Mayr 2002) and flamingos (Phoenicopteriformes) (Mayr 2004).

The head of the section is Associate Editor of the journal The Auk.