Rupelramphastoides knopfi, a new genus and species of the Pici (barbets, woodpeckers, and allies), is described from Frauenweiler, a Lower Oligocene (30–34 mya) fossil site in Germany. The disarticulated skeleton of the new species constitutes the first associated remains of a fossil member of the Pici and is the smallest known species and earliest substantial fossil record of this taxon. Despite an overall resemblance to modern Ramphastidae, R. knopfi appears to be distinguished from crown group Pici by several plesiomorphic characteristics. It is classified “family incertae sedis,” pending discovery of additional, better-preserved specimens. The fossil record and geographic occurrence of the basal lineages within the crown group are in concordance with an Old World origin of the Pici. The reasons that led to extinction of tiny Pici in Europe remain uncertain, but food competition with passeriform birds during periods of limited food availability may have played a major role.
Ein winziger bartvogelähnlicher Vogel aus dem Unter-Oligozän Deutschlands: die kleinste Art und der älteste substantielle Fossilnachweis der Pici (Spechte und Verwandte)