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<<Forgive my ignorance on avians and my lack of closely following this 
discussion, but I'm a bit confused on something here.  Is all this talk 
of polyphyly amongst the avians concerned only within major groups 
within Aves or referring to polyphyly of Aves as a whole?>> 

What is being discussed is polyphyly among one the major groups of 
birds, 'Piciformes'.  Classical 'Piciformes' includes two suborders link 
have been linked by some rather dubious characters: Pici (woodpeckers, 
barbets, toucans) and Galbulae (puffbirds and jacamers).  In '83 one 
ornithologist suggested that the classical 'Piciformes' was polyphyletic 
and Galbulae was not linked to Pici but imbedded inside the 
Coraciiformes, a group of birds that includes kingfishes.  Olson (the 
1983 author) suggested that Pici was linked to Passeriformes based on 
several characters.  The paper in question provides evidence that 
supports this hypothesis (e.g. Pici and Passeriformes show a primitive 
spinal cord morphology and Galbulae shows an advanced, derived spinal 
cord morphology shared with Coraciiformes and many other birds).  

Aves diphyly has been suggested many times in the past but has not 
seriously been considered for 50 years.

Matt Troutman 

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