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Re: Enantiornithes questions

On Tue, 6 Apr 1999, Bartlema, Lauri, L. wrote:

> Hi all.  I am writing a paper for a graduate ornithology seminar.  I
> have chosen the Enantiornithes, since I don't know much about them and
> would like to know more.  I have hit a snag and am hoping someone could
> help me.  I initially went thru the new Chatterjee book to see what he
> had to say and to make a preliminary list of taxa that are considered to
> enantiornithine birds.  He lists _Confusiusornis_ as an enanti (p. 98),
> yet shows in a cladogram in chapter 10 that _Confusiusornis_ is in a
> group with _Archaeopteryx_ and has a separate branch labeled
> "Enantiornithes".  

Careful.  There was a time not long ago when almost any Mesozoic bird
might be referred to as an "enantiornithine".  More recently, the term has
been restricted to a single, natural group of early birds, a branch of the
Ornithurae ["bird tails", since in members of this group, which includes
modern birds, the tail vertebrae are fused into a stump].

_Confuciusornis_ and its close relatives are not enantiornithines.  They
are not even members of the Ornithurae.  Rather, they are right near the
base of the Avialae, along with _Archaeopteryx_ and _Rahonavis_.  (By this
I do not mean to imply that _Archae_, _Raho_, and confuciusornithids are
particularly closely related to one another, merely that they are all
primitive avialans.)

Unfortunately, I have not been able to get my hands on many sources that
detail just what species are considered to belong to Enantiornithes or
what features unite the group.  If I remember correctly, _Eoalulavis_ from
Spain and _Sinornis_ from China are both enantiornithines.  Perhaps
someone with more expertise in this area could be more helpful.

-Nick P.