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RE: Several New Papers

evelyn sobielski wrote-

I remain utterly unconvinced about "Metaves"; I think
that considering them a paraphyletic, autapomorphic
grouping which may contain the odd small clade that is
for real is an alternative hitherto not explored to
satisfaction (it has not even been really explored in
the original Fain & Houde paper, in which the
"metavian" caprimulgiforms were paraphyletic in
respect to flamingos, and if *that* does not set one's
alarm bells ringing, I am at a loss to think of
anything that would...).

But the 'caprimulgiformes paraphyletic to flamingos' arrangement wasn't even supported by bootstrap values of over 50%. No molecular worker would take such a result seriously, and if you thought it was something Fain and Houde advocated, you're surely mistaken. So you can't use very poorly supported ingroup nodes of Metaves to argue against the reality of Metaves itself, which had an 85% bootstrap (not bad, but not great) in Fain and Houde's analysis.

This being science after all, I'll just put it like
this: give me a good solid attempt to *falsify* the
Metaves-Coronaves dichotomy, and if that *fails*, I'll
think about it.

Wasn't that what Ericson et al.'s analysis was?

What is a bit disappointing is that the verdict on
ciconiiform (non-Sibley) and gruiform monophyly is
still out. Well, you can't have everything.

Gruiformes sensu lato are quite polyphyletic in Ericson et al.'s tree. Sure you have a Ralli+Grui core which may include otidids, but mesitornithids, eurypygids and rhynochetids are metavians, while cariamids are in the parrot-passerform-falconid clade.

My gripe with Ericson et al.'s paper is that it didn't use Vegavis as a fossil calibration point, so has crown galloanserines emerging in the Eocene. I imagine including it could push back the divergence dates for other taxa too. But they basically ignore Cretaceous neornithine fossils, and by only using Eocene fossils as calibration, force a result where the main neoavian 'orders' diverge after the K-T boundary.

Mickey Mortimer