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Jean-Michel (Aegyptiacus@aol.com) wrote:
> I've been quite a while on this but I've always wondered about
> enantiornithes. What characteristics make them "opposite" birds and
> not "true" birds?
As an addendum to Jaime's response, I would add: don't be suprised if future
analyses find the Enantiornithes (as currently defined) to be paraphyletic.
The recent description of _Apsaravis_ set the scene in this respect. Many,
many species of Mesozoic Aves have been assigned to the Enantiornithes - and
some of the diagnostic characters advanced for this group (which have been
used to justify referral of said species to the Enantiornithes) are looking
more than a little shaky.
> Were they volant?
Yes. Interestingly, no flightess enantiornithines have so far been
described, AFAIK*. This strikes me as strange (suspicious?), considering
how rampant secondary flightlessness is among non-enantiornithine Aves:
hesperornithiforms, patagopterygids, _Gargantuavis_, ratites, numerous 2F
*I'm removing the notion that _Caudipteryx_ is a flightless enantiornithine
from consideration (a la Feduccia's _The Origin and Evolution of Birds_),
since I've yet to encounter a paleontologist who takes this idea seriously.