I describe a skeleton of a cormorant-like bird from Enspel, a late Oligocene (24.7 mya) fossil site in Germany, which is assigned to a new species, ?Borvocarbo stoeffelensis, sp. nov. The specimen constitutes the earliest described and most completely preserved fossil record of the Phalacrocoracoidea, the clade including Anhingidae (anhingas) and Phalacrocoracidae (cormorants). ?B. stoeffelensis shares derived features with cormorants that are absent in anhingas. Despite its cormorant-like overall morphology, an assignment to the stem lineage of Phalacrocoracidae is not straightforward, because the new species is also distinguished from crown group representatives of the clade (Anhingidae Phalacrocoracidae) by presumably plesiomorphic features. The morphology displayed by ?B. stoeffelensis places a caveat on the assignment to the Phalacrocoracidae of other less completely known Paleogene and early Neogene taxa. Plesiomorphic features shared by ?B. stoeffelensis and extant “microcormorants” (sensu Siegel-Causey 1988) support a sister group relationship between “Microcarbo” spp. and all other extant Phalacrocoracidae.
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