Abstract: 

Gastric pellets (i.e., regurgitated indigestible food remains) are rare in the fossil record. Here, we describe three gastric pellets with bird remains from the early Eocene Messel fossil site in Germany. A small, ball-shaped specimen that contains various broken bird bones resembles the pellets of owls and may have been produced by the Messel owlPalaeoglaux artophoron, which would make it the oldest owl pellet identified so far. The two other gastric pellets with bird remains have more elongated shapes and probably stem from snakes or other squamates. Both contain partially articulated bird skeletons, one of which belongs to an undescribed species that is otherwise unknown from the abundant avian fossil record from Messel. The fossil pellets described here therefore not only contribute to a better understanding of the avifauna of Messel, but are also important for reconstructing trophic webs and add to an understanding of the early Eocene Messel ecosystem.

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