It eats like a hummingbird and is tiny like a hummingbird, but the oldest pollinating bird was not a hummingbird. Pumiliornis tessellatus was a now-extinct species with no modern relatives. That’s according to scientists who discovered the bird’s 47-million-year-old fossil in Germany.

The three-inch-long, “very weird-looking” bird apparently had a long, hummer-like beak and feet made for perching, researchers told National Geographic. (The actual paper in Biology Letters can be read here.) And it was found with a stomach full of insect shreds and pollen grains from a plant species that scientists haven’t been able to identify.

Although the find is hailed as significant because it’s the earliest known instance of bird pollination, there’s still much to learn about this fossil and the world it represents. But one thing can be stated as a fact: This is one German bird that Jochen won’t ever be able to add to his year list.

(Image above by Sven Traenkner, Seckenberg Research Institute)

Written by Meredith Mann
The lowly Red-winged Blackbirds in suburban New York triggered Meredith Mann's interest in birds. Five years later, she's explored some of the the USA's coolest hotspots, from Plum Island in Massachusetts to the Magic Hedge in Chicago to the deserts of Fallon, Nevada. She recently migrated from the Windy City (where she proudly served as a Chicago Bird Collision Monitor, rescuing migrants from skyscrapers and sidewalks) to Philadelphia, where she plans to find new editing and writing gigs; keep up her cool-finds chronicle, Blog5B; and discover which cheesesteak really is the best. And she will accept any and all invitations to bird Cape May, NJ.