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Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, Maastrichtian
Life restoration of Falcatakely forsterae as an enantiornithean
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Clade: Saurischia
Clade: Theropoda
Clade: Avialae
Clade: Ornithothoraces
Clade: Enantiornithes
Genus: Falcatakely
O'Connor et al., 2020
F. forsterae
Binomial name
Falcatakely forsterae
O'Connor et al., 2020

Falcatakely (meaning "small scythe" from the Latin falcatus and Malagasy kely, in reference to the shape of the beak) is an extinct genus of enantiornithean bird known from partial fossils from northern Madagascar. The genus contains a single species, Falcatakely forsterae.[1][2]


Falcatakely was a crow-sized stem-bird that can be distinguished from all other enantiornitheans by its deep, long rostrum approx. 9 centimetres (3.5 inch) in length, which is slightly reminiscent of that of a toucan. Despite this resemblance, the upper jaw had more in common with that of the non-avian theropoda in being dominated by a large maxilla, while the smaller premaxilla made up the tip of the rostrum. This is the opposite arrangement of what we see in modern birds, where the upper beak is dominated by the premaxilla, which in Falcatakely still had teeth.[1][3]


The describers' phylogenetic analyses all place Falcatakely in the Enantiornithes, though its precise position is unclear. It has been recovered as a basal enantiornithean, the sister taxon of Pengornis, and in a polytomy with many other enantiornitheans.[1]


Falcatakely is known from the Maevarano Formation, then a swampy floodplain which seasonally alternated between being swampland in the wet season and dry semidesert during the dry season; it was home to other unusual animals such as Simosuchus, a herbivorous crocodilian, Masiakasaurus, a short-armed, buck-toothed theropod, and Adalatherium, a highly unusual stem-mammal. These forms may have evolved due to Madagascar being an isolated island during the Cretaceous.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d O'Connor, P. M.; Turner, A. H.; Groenke, J. R.; et al. (2020). "Late Cretaceous bird from Madagascar reveals unique development of beaks". Nature. doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2945-x
  2. ^ Black, Riley. "Tiny toucan-like bird with a single tooth flew during the dinosaur era". New Scientist. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  3. ^ Cretaceous-Period Bird from Madagascar Had Sickle-Shaped Beak