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Ratite Answers

Some grandly long time ago, I'm not sure how long, I sent a message to the list asking a few questions about neornithines (especially ratites), these are the answers. Thanks to Tommy Tyberg and David Marjanovic, from who these answers come.

The reference for Palaeognathae (not Paleognathae, as I originally wrote) and Neognathae is-

W.P. Pycraft, 1900. On the monophyly and phylogeny of the Palaeognathae (Ratitae and Crypturi) and Neognathae (Carinatae). Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 15:149-290

The reference for Ratitae is-

Merrem, 1816. Tentamen systematis naturalis avium. Abh. Akad. Wiss. Berlin, p. 259

The latter is available online apparently at-


(You may have to copy and paste the last part, as it doesn't appear as one line in this message)

According to Pycraft, the synapomorphies of Palaeognathae are-

1. paleognathus palate
2. open ilio-ischiadic fenestra
3. compound rhamphothecae
4. male care of the young (simultaneous polygny + sequential polyandry)

And it occurred to me this morning to look at Cracraft & Clarke (2001), which is a morphological analysis of the basal clades of modern birds. According to their analysis, the following characters are synapomorphies of Palaeognathae-

05(0). Extensive articulation between the vomer and pterygoid.
09(0). Vomers contact premaxillae.
10(0). ventral, "zygomatic" process of the squamosal long, laterally adjacent to the quadrate rostrodorsally.
12(0). Eustachian tubes open laterally.
13(1). Alaparasphenoidalis is not inflated by the rostral tympanic diverticulum.
14(1). Skull with highly pneumatic bone posterior to the articulation with the quadrate.
17(1). Caudal maxillary sinus absent.
18(0). Quadrate intercotylar incisure between prootic and squamosal cotylae absent.
43(2). Parental care performed primarily by males.

Thanks again to all who replied!

Nick Gardner

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