Songbirds (Passeriformes) occur in the fossil record of the Northern Hemisphere around the early Oligocene. It has recently been suggested that the major passeriform lineages diverged in Gondwana in the mid- to late Cretaceous and that the oscines, which include all extant European songbirds, originated on the Australian continental plate. Suboscines are assumed to have originated in western Gondwana. Although there is an abundant fossil record of songbirds in Europe, few attempts have been made to set those remains in a phylogenetic context. Our examination of fossil songbirds from three middle Miocene localities in Germany and France shows that many lack the derived morphology of the hypotarsus that characterizes extant Eupasseres (a taxon that comprises oscines and suboscines). We assume that these fossil taxa are outside the crown-group of Eupasseres, which indicates the presence of an ancient songbird avifauna in the Miocene of Europe, in addition to the few fossil Eupasseres already described in the literature.
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Vol. 121 • No. 4