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Ahh, the lovely little Sandcoleiformes, my favourite birds of them 
all. Ron Orenstein asked...

> I am not familiar with the Sancoleiformes - a
> fossil taxon, I presume?

And, in response, Matt Troutman replied..

> They're described in _Papers in Avian Paleontology_ by Peter Houde 
> and Storrs Olson.  There are 4 definite species: Sandcoleus, 
> Anneavis, Eobucco, and Chascacocolius; and two possible species: 
> Uintornis and Botauroides.  

(Matt means genera of course). Truth is, no one knows what the 
sandcoleiforms were. If you read the paper you will find no diagnosis 
of the group whatsoever: merely that they are not Coliiforms, not 
Piciformes, not Caprimulgiformes etc. etc. etc. Some real basic 
diagnoses of clades and testing of traditional monophyletic groups is 
needed before any understanding of neornithine higher-level phylogeny 
can get underway. Luckily, there are now quite a few workers 
addressing these problems.


I'll save myself flames from all you mammal haters out there and 
mention this briefly here. Matt recently asked about the diphyly that 
has been proposed for Chiroptera - a few workers have argued that 
megabats are archontans related to dermopterans and primates, while 
microbats are, well, who knows? A new spin on all this is Hutcheon et 
al. (1998), a paper I've just seen in _Phil. Trans. B_ (if I 
remember correctly) where it is proposed that MICROCHIROPTERA is 
diphyletic. Based on molecular data (I haven't read the paper yet), 
the authors found that there was evidence for a monophyletic clade of 
rhinolophoids (horseshoe bats) + megachiropterans! Primates were the 
sister group, and other microchiropterans (emballonuroids, 
mollossids, verpertilionoids.. yada yada.. the words trip off the 
tongue) did form a monophyletic clade. A new spin indeed.

BTW, my recent claim that a monophyletic Pelycosauria has been used 
in print was an error I think. Instead, it seems I was thinking of 
Sphenacodontia. Sorry.

"All you know is what you don't"