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Re: Avian origins: new analysis confirms ancient beginnings



If characters turn out to
change state very frequently, namely outside the clade
in question also, and especially if ecomorphological
constraints are not readily apparent, one will
immediately known that inference of the ancestral
state *in* the clade in question is unreliable.

This will often work, but not always. It happens that a character is highly conserved or highly labile in a clade but not in its closest relatives. Sometimes there is no way to get a cheap answer, and a huge phylogenetic analysis is all that can be done.