Cenozoic birds

In addition to moas and elephant birds, which went extinct relatively recently, we care for older fossil bird specimens from the Eocene, Miocene and Pleistocene.

The Lower Eocene exposures on the Isle of Sheppey have yielded material from several birds, including:

  • the so-called bony-toothed bird, Odontopteryx
  • Prophaethon, a relative of the tropicbirds

The fossil bird collection includes a wide range of taxa from Upper Eocene and Lower Miocene localities in France.

Phorusrhachids from Patagonia were donated as part of the Ameghino Collection in 1896.

Pleistocene material

Pleistocene material represents more than half of the fossil bird collection. Significant material includes:

  • The Forbes Collection from 1892 and the Walter Rothschild Collection from 1900, which contain thousands of individual bones and some complete skeletons of flightless rails and ostrich coots from Chatham Island, New Zealand.
  • 2 complete skeletons of the dodo, Raphus cucullatus, an endemic flightless pigeon from Mauritius. One is on display in the Hintze Hall (formerly the Central Hall).
  • Extensive material of the solitaire, Pezophaps solitarius, from Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean, another extinct bird closely related to the dodo.
  • Material collected by Dorothea Bate from Mediterranean islands, especially Malta, and Tabun in Palestine.
  • Large holdings of material from
    • Gibraltar
    • West Runton in Norfolk

Using palaeontology collections