In recent years, mousebirds (Aves, Coliiformes) have been recognized as one of the predominant groups of small perching birds in the early Tertiary of the Northern Hemisphere. Two major lineages can be distinguished, the Sandcoleidae, which are exclusively known from Paleocene and Eocene deposits, and the Coliidae, which have been found in Upper Eocene to Pliocene deposits and also include the six extant African species. Here we describe a nearly complete tarsometatarsus of a mousebird from the middle Eocene to upper Oligocene fissure fillings of the Quercy in France. The specimen is tentatively referred to Selmes absurdipes Peters, 1999, and represents a previously unknown tarsometatarsal morphology that combines derived characters of Sandcoleidae and Coliidae. It provides further evidence that Selmes is a stem lineage representative of the Coliidae and not a sandcoleid bird as assumed in the original description. Classification of Selmes into the Coliidae is also supported by a cladistic analysis of 19 morphological characters.
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Vol. 24 • No. 2