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The History of British Birds$
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Derek Yalden and Umberto Albarella

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199217519

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199217519.001.0001

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The early history of birds in Britain and Europe

The early history of birds in Britain and Europe

(p.25) 2 The early history of birds in Britain and Europe
The History of British Birds

D. W. Yalden

U. Albarella

Oxford University Press

Starting with the first bird, Archaeopteryx, about 150 million years ago, this chapter reviews bird history from then to the end of the Last Glaciation about 15,000 years ago. Cretaceous birds, from China and elsewhere, show more modern skeletons than Archaeopteryx. Birds belonging to modern orders appear perhaps around the end of the Cretaceous, and are well represented in Europe (including the British Isles) and elsewhere by the start of the Eocene about 55 million years ago. Fossil and genetic evidence about the appearance of modern orders are somewhat conflicting, and this conflict is discussed. There is then little fossil evidence from the British Isles until the later stages of the Pleistocene, when the bones in archaeological sites and caves document an increasingly familiar set of bird species present over the last 500,000 years.

Keywords:   Archaeopteryx, Cretaceous birds, molecular evidence, Pleistocene, fossil, genetic evidence

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