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Darren Naish wrote:

Ratites (IMHO) are not closely related to anseriforms, but are rather
the sister-group to the neognaths (Galloanserae, Turnicae, Picae,
Coraciae, Coliae and Passerae of S & A 1990). Though some
ornithologists still hold out for a polyphyletic view of ratite evolution,
the idea that the group is monophyletic and outside of Neognathae is
well supported.

Kurochkin, for one, regards the ratites (and tinamous) as more closely related to the extinct _Ambiortus and _Otogornis_ (Cretaceous) and the _Lithornis_ group (early Tertiary) than to any other Recent orders. This idea also has been kicking around for a while. (Kurochkin contradicts the view that _Ambiortus_ might be closely related to the ichthyornithids.) Kurochkin includes all these groups (Ambiortiformes, Lithornithiformes, Tinamiformes, ratites) in the Palaeognathae, the sister clade to the Neognathae.

P.S. Can anyone give me a definition of "heterocoelous"? And while on the topic of vertebrae, what is the difference between "amphiplatyan" and "platycoelous"?


Kurochkin, Evgeny N. (1999). The relationships of the Early Cretaceous _Ambiortus_ and _Otogornis_ (Aves: Ambiortiformes). Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology. 89: 275-284.

Tim ________________________________________________________________________ Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com