A range of fossil albatrosses are evidence of a wider and more cosmopolitan distribution than those extant today. The earliest identified are from the Oligocene in Germany and South Carolina. Species approaching the characteristics of modern albatrosses are from the Northern Hemisphere (Europe and both coasts of North America) in the Miocene and Pliocene, but deposits are known from Australia, South Africa and Argentina in the predominantly marine Southern Hemisphere. Albatrosses were probably widespread in the north Atlantic until the late Tertiary.
The taxonomic status of albatrosses was fragmented and confusing until long-