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RE: Neoavian phylogeny papers



Christopher Taylor wrote:

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 [snip] 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.

You're not alone Chris: I've seen many a scientist despair at this. Molecular phylogenies are not a panacea for resolving evolutionary relationships. I wish it were otherwise, but genes can be tantalizingly cruel. Of course, genes also can be very helpful - but in the case of birds, I think we need to take a deep breath and ask WHY we get so many contradictory phylogenies.


I agree with Mayr's comment: "Plotopterids exemplify the importance of fossil birds for analyzing the phylogenetic relationships of modern taxa that exhibit a highly apomorphic morphology." Unfortunately, so many avian families and "orders" have a poor fossil record, especially when it comes to basal relationships.


Tim