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Re: Cretaceous Duck Ruffles Feathers



Mickey Mortimer wrote:

> BBC story includes Alan Feduccia's comments.
>
> http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4187287.stm

"This is a well known specimen which has been kicking around since 1992, and
it was originally described as belonging to an extinct group. And now all of
a sudden it's a modern duck."


Wrong. It was originally claimed to be a presbyornithid, but is now in an
unresolved trichotomy with presbyornithids and anatids. Thus, it's position
has only been made less precise, not changed to 'modern duck'. Seems
Feduccia can't even get his neornithine facts straight.

Dead right, Mickey. In this topology, _Vegavis_ would be a member of both crown-group Anseriformes and grown-group Anatoidea. Feduccia might also be a little sore that presbyornithids are no longer considered to be the "basal stock" from which other waterfowl and shorebirds originated. Presbyornithids are also crown-group anatoids. Considering that the screamers (Anhimae) are terrestrial, it is an open question whether the first anseriforms (or "pananseriforms") were terrestrial or wading birds.


[Feduccia:] "The analysis is based on very superficial features of bones, so I find it
unreliable."

When you have a species based on a fossilized skeleton... what other features can you use for phylogenetic analysis apart from "superficial features of bones"? That's the entire foundation for classifying extinct tetrapods.




Tim