Abstract

The discovery of fossil bird tracks from the Cenomanian Kerker Member (Zebbag Formation) in southern Tunisia represents the oldest report of fossil birds from the Cretaceous of continental Africa. Three small bird tracks were discovered in a track-bearing surface dominated by tridactyl dinosaur footprints and are attributed to the ichnogenus Koreanaornis. This represents the first occurrence of this ichnogenus in Africa and indicates a worldwide distribution of these shorebirdlike tracks, previously known only from Asia and North America. Tracks described in this study are also smaller than any other fossil bird track known to date, thus they can be included in the minute size class following modern bird track groups. A comparison with present-day shorebird tracks indicates strong similarities in size, morphology, and environment with extant members of the Actitis genus, commonly known as sandpipers, which inhabit arid central African tidal flats. The occurrence of bird tracks in the early Late Cretaceous of Tunisia also brings important new insight into the paleoecology of an area previously thought to be a site of exclusively marine deposition.

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