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Re: One for the bird brigade

At 07:11 AM 18/12/1998 -0800, you wrote:
>What bird still aalive today is considered to be the closest kin to
>Archaepteryx still alive today?  Surely it is not the Grebe, is it?

Back from two weeks in Florida, and what do I find?

Ah, well - all living birds belong to the subclass Neornithes (if you like
that classification).  To the best of my knowledge there is no really clear
candidate for a basal neornithine, or a clear indication of which living
order of birds is closest to the basal taxon (though tinamous and galliform
birds, among others, have been suggested).  Without such a clear candidate,
it is simply impossible to say which living bird is "closest" to
Archaeopteryx, even if the question itself has meaning given the cladistic
definition of birds.  As the Neornithines represent, however, a derived
monophyletic sub-branch of Aves, the question is really not useful - it
would be like asking which species of rodent is closest to, say, Cynognathus.
Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court                 
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2          mailto:ornstn@home.com