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Jacamatia luberonensis gen. et sp. nov. (1 Viewer)

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Anaïs Duhamel, Christine Balme, Stéphane Legal, Ségolène Riamon & Antoine Louchart, 2020

An early Oligocene stem Galbulae (jacamars and puffbirds) from southern France, and the position of the Paleogene family Sylphornithidae

The Auk, ukaa023 (advance online publication)
doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/auk/ukaa023

The authors describe Jacamatia luberonensis gen. et sp. nov.


Together, puffbirds (Bucconidae) and jacamars (Galbulidae) form the suborder Galbulae, sister group of all other Piciformes. Hitherto, the Galbulae had no ascertained pre-Pleistocene fossil record, and all previous alleged candidates have been refuted, except possibly the Sylphornithidae. Here we describe a wing of a tiny fossil bird from the early Oligocene of the Luberon region (southern France), which we assign to the Galbulae, as a new genus and species. Several characters, especially of the ulna and wing phalanx 1 of digit II, exclude the Passeriformes and Zygodactylidae, and indicate a representative of the Piciformes. Among Piciformes, absence of papillae remigales caudales and several characters of the wing phalanx 1 of digit II make it possible to assign the fossil to the Galbulae, and exclude all other clades. The fossil Sylphornithidae, with the carpometacarpus of Sylphornis being available, show some similarity with the Luberon fossil. The combination of features of the wing elements leads to the placement of the new fossil as stem Galbulae, and tentatively within the family Sylphornithidae. As such, it fills a gap and permits to better assign the whole enigmatic tiny sylphornithids, otherwise essentially known from leg bones. This yields the first firm pre-Pleistocene fossil record for the Galbulae. Today, both the Bucconidae and Galbulidae live exclusively in tropical America. The presence of stem Galbulae in the Oligocene of Europe, and probably the late Eocene, is a new example of a present-day Neotropical clade that had stem representatives in the Paleogene of Europe.


Ensemble, les jacamars (Galbulidae) ainsi que les tamatias et barbacous (Bucconidae) forment le sous-ordre Galbulae, groupe frère des Pici au sein des Piciformes. Jusqu’ici, les Galbulae n’avaient pas de registre fossile confirmé avant le Pléistocène, et tous les candidats présumés ont été rejetés, à l’exception possible des Sylphornithidae. Nous décrivons ici une aile d’un petit oiseau fossile de l’Oligocène inférieur du Luberon (sud de la France), que nous attribuons aux Galbulae, en tant que nouveau genre et nouvelle espèce. Plusieurs caractères, en particulier sur l’ulna et la phalange 1 du doigt II, excluent l’appartenance du fossile aux Passeriformes et aux Zygodactylidae, et indiquent une appartenance aux Piciformes. Parmi les Piciformes, l’absence de papillae remigales caudales et plusieurs caractères de la phalange 1 du doigt II impliquent une détermination en tant que Galbulae, excluant tous les autres clades. Les Sylphornithidae, famille fossile, dont le carpométacarpe est disponible à la comparaison, montrent des similitudes avec le fossile du Luberon. La combinaison de caractéristiques des os des ailes permet de placer le nouveau fossile en tant que Galbulae souche, et provisoirement dans la famille des Sylphornithidae. En tant que tel, il comble une lacune et permet de placer plus précisément l’ensemble des énigmatiques Sylphornithidae, par ailleurs connus essentiellement par des os des pattes. Cela constitue le premier registre fossile pré-Pléistocène pour les Galbulae. Aujourd’hui, Bucconidae et Galbulidae vivent exclusivement en Amérique tropicale. La présence de Galbulae souche dans l’Oligocène d’Europe, et probablement l’Eocène supérieur, est un nouvel exemple de groupe actuellement néotropical qui avait des représentants basaux dans le Paléogène de l’Ancien Monde.


Last edited:

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Systematic Palaeontology

Class Aves Linnaeus, 1758
Order Piciformes (Meyer and Wolf, 1810)
Suborder Galbulae Fürbringer, 1888
cf. Family Sylphornithidae Mourer-Chauviré, 1988
Jacamatia, gen. nov.
Type and only included species. Jacamatia luberonensis, sp. nov.

Differential diagnosis.
Jacamatia differs from all avian taxa except the Galbulae (Galbulidae and Bucconidae) in the Piciformes, and the late Eocene Sylphornis bretouensis (the only carpometacarpus known in both this species and Jacamatia), principally by the following combination of characters: carpometacarpus with wide processus intermetacarpalis fused with os metacarpale minus (with no fenestra proximal to this fusion), prominent distalmost os metacarpale minus extending well beyond the level of os metacarpale majus, ulna olecranon rather obtuse, condylus dorsalis ulnaris regularly round but well delimited at the junction with diaphysis, absence of papillae remigales caudales on the ulna, pila cranialis of wing phx II:1 wide, caudal border of blade of phx II:1 thin and without a bulge, presence of a proximal process on the cranial side of the proximal end of phx II:1, a cranio-distally positioned tiny sulcus on the ventral side of phx II:1, 2 small round depressions (hollows) distally on the ventral side of phx II:1, and absence of wing phx I:2. Jacamatia is distinguished from Sylphornis bretouensis among others by its much larger size (nearly 50% larger), more curved os metacarpale minus, narrower processus extensorius, and less developed processus alularis. Jacamatia differs from crown Galbulae in the more proximal extension (rather than rostral) of the processus extensorius, and stouter proportions of the carpometacarpus.

Etymology. Combination of “jacamar”, common name of the Galbulidae, and “tamatia”, French name of part of the Bucconidae (puffbirds), to signify the position of the fossil as a Galbulae, the clade unifying jacamars and puffbirds.

Jacamatia luberonensis, sp. nov.

Holotype. Almost complete left wing on slab PNRL-1632 (Figure 1), in the collections of the Parc naturel
régional du Luberon (Maison du Parc, Apt, Vaucluse, France).

Type locality and horizon. Locality of Céreste (Alpesde-Haute-Provence, southeastern France), “Campagne-Calavon limestones” (“calcaires de Campagne-Calavon”), of Rupelian age (33.9–27.82 mya) (Cavelier 1984, Escarguel et al. 1997, Sigé and Hugueney 2006).

Diagnosis. As for genus.

Etymology. Named after the southeastern French region of Luberon, which yielded the holotype.


FIGURE 1. Complete fossil of Jacamatia luberonensis, PNRL-1632, from the early Oligocene of Céreste (France), left wing in ventral view. (A) Photograph of fossil on slab; (B) annotated drawing of the fossil. Abbreviations: Cmc = carpometacarpus; Hum = humerus; mtcp majus = os metacarpale majus; mtcp minus = os metacarpale minus; os carp rad = os carpi radiale; os carp uln = os carpi ulnare; Phx I:1 = wing phalanx 1 of digit I; Phx II:1 = wing phalanx 1 of digit II; Phx II:2 = wing phalanx 2 of digit II; Phx III:1 = wing phalanx 1 of digit III; Rad = radius; Uln = ulna. Sediment has been excavated to assess *, the position of a processus dentiformis, slightly crushed and flattened (see Figure 2), and ***, the absence of papillae remigales on the ulna. In the process of fossil preparation the os metacarpale minus broke near its proximal part (**); the complete os metacarpale minus was nevertheless photographed and drawn previously so as to illustrate the complete os metacarpale minus (Figure 2); breaking allowed to see precisely and assess the fusion between the os metacarpale minus and the processus intermetacarpalis. Scale bar = 10 mm.


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