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Fossil bird review article (Mayr, 2005, Biol. Rev.)



This doesn't seem to have been mentioned here yet, and I thought
 it might be of interest to some:

Mayr, G. (2005).  "The Paleogene fossil record of birds in Europe", 
_Biological Reviews_, 80:515-542.

Abstract

     The Paleogene (Paleocene--Oligocene) fossil record of birds in
     Europe is reviewed and recent and fossil taxa are placed into a
     phylogenetic framework, based on published cladistic
     analyses. The pre-Oligocene European avifauna is characterized by
     the complete absence of passeriform birds, which today are the
     most diverse and abundant avian taxon. Representatives of small
     non-passeriform perching birds thus probably had similar
     ecological niches before the Oligocene to those filled by modern
     passerines. The occurrence of passerines towards the Lower
     Oligocene appears to have had a major impact on these birds, and
     the surviving crown-group members of many small arboreal Eocene
     taxa show highly specialized feeding strategies not found or rare
     in passeriform birds. It is detailed that no crown-group members
     of modern 'families' are known from pre-Oligocene deposits of
     Europe, or anywhere else. The phylogenetic position of Paleogene
     birds thus indicates that diversification of the crown-groups of
     modern avian 'families' did not take place before the Oligocene,
     irrespective of their relative position within Neornithes
     (crown-group birds). The Paleogene fossil record of birds does
     not even support crown-group diversification of Galliformes, one
     of the most basal taxa of neognathous birds, before the
     Oligocene, and recent molecular studies that dated
     diversification of galliform crown-group taxa into the Middle
     Cretaceous are shown to be based on an incorrect interpretation
     of the fossil taxa used for molecular clock calibrations. Several
     taxa that occur in the Paleogene of Europe have a very different
     distribution than their closest extant relatives. The modern
     survivors of these Paleogene lineages are not evenly distributed
     over the continents, and especially the great number of taxa that
     are today restricted to South and Central America is
     noteworthy. The occurrence of stem-lineage representatives of
     many taxa that today have a restricted Southern Hemisphere
     distribution conflicts with recent hypotheses on a Cretaceous
     vicariant origin of these taxa, which were deduced from the
     geographical distribution of the basal crown-group members.

--
Mickey P. Rowe



                
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