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Re: Metaves and Coronaves

Peter Houde wrote:

It will probably be a long time before any
consensus is reached about the validity of Metaves and Coronaves, but these
sure are exciting times.

Agreed. Thanks for a very interesting paper.

I am troubled, though, by the fact that the analysis did not recover a monophyletic Falconiformes. I'm not all that surprised by the exclusion of the Cathartidae; but Falconidae is not part of a well-supported Sagittariidae+Pandionidae+Accipitridae clade (a Falconiformes "core", as the paper puts it).

I wonder if maybe FGB-int7 is better at capturing deep divergences more so than shallower divergences. The Galloanserae clade appears robust, and I have no problem with the Metaves-Coronaves dichotomy. But as with some other vertebrate phylogenies I've seen, the really recent divergences appear to come through OK too (e.g., within families), but it's at the "mid-level" resolution (at the level of "orders" and "superorders") that relationships prove the most controversial.

I for one balked when I read several years ago
that grebes are the sister of flamingos.  I'm not balking anymore; the
evidence is overwhelming.  Mayr even argued this recently from cladistic
analysis of morphological characters.

However, the phylogeny in Faine and Houde (2004) does not show an explicit grebe+flamingo clade. but puts flamingoes next to nighthawks (Caprimulgidae). The bootstrap support is weak, so this section of the Metaves tree (basal Metaves - where the caprimulgiforms, pigeons and hoatzin also end up) would collapse into a polytomy. It's also nice to see that the pigeons (Columbidae) and sandgrouse (Pteroclidae) end up in the Metaves.