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Re: emu history

At 04:54 PM 1/14/2004, David Marjanovic wrote:
This was largely just misrooting, coupled with ordinary long-branch
attraction. Plus, it's old. (1998 is old for a molecular phylogeny.) -- The
idea that kiwis are the sistergroup of emus + cassowaries is quite old, much
older than molecular phylogenies, and has usually had widespread acceptance.
The topology of Cooper et al. looks rather unsurprising, so, in the absence
of a better analysis, I trust it.

I checked in "The Lost World of the Moa" (a must-have book), which includes Cooper's tree; I was surprised to see that he had mtDNA from five genera of moas, and that they cluster out quite reasonably, so the kiwi placement seems to be rather sound. The authors give a history of moa-kiwi taxonomic theories, noting that Bledsoe produced a tree not unlike Cooper's in 1988, based on morphological characters (though it apparently is missing some key characters as moas have no pectoral girdle). The authors note that the placement of kiwis "remains contentious".

Ronald I. Orenstein Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
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