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Neoavian phylogeny papers



Just spotted in 'Online Early' for the Journal of Zoological systematics and
Evolutionary Research
(http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/links/doi/10.1111/j.1439-0469.2004.00291.x
/abs/) - does anyone have access to the pdf for it?

Mayr, G. Tertiary plotopterids (Aves, Plotopteridae) and a novel hypothesis
on the phylogenetic relationships of penguins (Spheniscidae).

    "Plotopterids (Aves: Plotopteridae) are extinct wing-propelled diving
birds which exhibit a strikingly similar wing morphology to penguins
(Spheniscidae), but also share derived characters with 'pelecaniform' birds
that are absent in penguins. The similarities between Plotopteridae and
Spheniscidae have hitherto been attributed to convergence, and plotopterids
were considered to be most closely related to the 'pelecaniform'
Phalacrocoracidae (cormorants) and Anhingidae (anhingas). However, here I
show that assignment of plotopterids to 'pelecaniform' birds does not
necessarily preclude them from being the sister taxon of penguins. Cladistic
analysis of 68 morphological characters resulted in sister group
relationship between Plotopteridae and Spheniscidae, and the clade
(Plotopteridae + Spheniscidae) was shown to be the sister taxon of the
Suloidea, i.e. a clade including Sulidae (boobies and gannets),
Phalacrocoracidae, and Anhingidae. Derived characters are discussed which
support this novel hypothesis. Paedomorphosis probably accounts for the
absence of derived characters in penguins that are shared by Plotopteridae
and members of the Steganopodes. Plotopterids exemplify the importance of
fossil birds for analyzing the phylogenetic relationships of modern taxa
that exhibit a highly apomorphic morphology."

    The obvious question - where are the Procellariiformes in this?

    Also just found:

    Mayr, G., & P. G. P. Ericson. 2004. Evidence for a sister group
relationship between the Madagascan mesites (Mesitornithidae) and cuckoos
(Cuculidae). Senckenbergiana biologica 84: 119-135.

    The Madagascan Mesitornithidae (mesites or roatelos) are an enigmatic
and poorly known group of small terrestrial birds. In this study their
phylogenetic relationships are analyzed using a data set of 91 morphological
characters and 29 extant avian taxa. Parsimony analysis of this data
strongly supports monophyly of the taxon (Mesitornithidae + Cuculidae
[cuckoos]) which has not been proposed before. Derived anatomical,
parasitological, and behavioral characters are presented which support
monophyly of this clade. Monophyly of the taxon (Mesitornithidae +
Cuculidae) is also supported by a preliminary analysis of DNA sequences of
two nuclear, protein-coding genes, RAG-1 and myoglobin intron II. In
addition, sistergroup relationships of several other gruiform and
non-gruiform taxa (Columbidae and Pteroclidae) are supported by derived
morphological characters. Monophyly of a taxon including the remaining
"Gruiformes" (i.e. excluding Mesitornithidae) is neither supported by
morphological nor molecular analyses.

    I'm not convinced by this one - the molecular tree does have the two
families as a clade, but with only 48% bootstrap support, and only under
parsimony - a likelihood analysis apparently doesn't retrieve a
Mesitornithidae-Cuculidae clade. The morphological tree does have this clade
as one of very few resolved [the others are Pteroclidae + Columbidae,
Alcidae + Laridae, Ardeidae + (Rhynochetidae + Eurypygidae) and Psophiidae +
(Aramidae + Gruidae)], the rest is just OGP (One Great Polytomy).
Pteroclidae, Columbidae, Ardeidae, Opisthocomidae, Musophagidae and
Cuculidae are the only families included out of 29 that are not classically
either Charadriiformes or Gruiformes.
    Which leads me to a bit of a down note - it almost seems a bit like one
can pretty much pick and choose their own phylogeny in Neoaves, and no
matter how outre it seems, you'll be able to find support for it somewhere.
Anyone care to see if they can link hornbills and tropicbirds? Penguins and
hoopoes? Buttonquails and budgerigars? It's all a bit depressing....

    Yours a little despairingly,

        Christopher Taylor