The first late Oligocene fossil record of a loon (Gaviiformes) is described from the lacustrine deposits of the German locality Enspel. The specimen is an isolated foot, which is associated with a crocodilian tooth. The fossil belongs to a species about half the size of the smallest extant loon, and is morphologically most similar to the Paleogene taxon Colymboides. In all probability it constitutes the prey remains of a crocodilian, which is of particular significance because the distribution ranges of loons and crocodilians hardly overlap today. The Enspel palaeoclimate was warm-temperate and subtropical, and the Enspel specimen and other Paleogene fossils of gaviiform birds raise the, as yet, unanswered question of why loons largely disappeared from inland habitats of the warmer regions.
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Vol. 32 • No. 3