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Re: Shaking up the bird family tree



> The tenth of the eighteen authors weighs in:
> http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/msg/7e514d3ce1c0f17e

"2. Similarly, some reports have claimed that it's a big surprise that a 
couple of weird tropical birds, kagu and sunbittern, are related. This 
too has been around for years, and was most convincingly shown by Peter 
Houde, in Houde, P., A. Cooper, E. Leslie, A. E. Strand, and G. A. 
Montaño. 1997. Phylogeny and evolution of 12S rDNA in Gruiformes (Aves). 
Pages 121-158 in  Avian molecular evolution and systematics (D. P. 
Mindell, ed.). Academic Press, San Diego; though Joel Cracraft had come 
up with it 20 years earlier."

True, though there was so much uncertainty that credit is due to the authors of 
the present paper for adding more evidence. I consider the matter settled 
herewith. Well we don't know their closest living relatives yet, but that's 
precisely *why* I consider the matter settled - though they jump around the 
tree, they stay together in doing so.


"(By the way, we have a paper coming out next month in PNAS 
that will look into this in detail.)"

I am so waiting for that. The Austromelanesian/NZ - Old World - South America 
trichotomy seems to be the way to go, but it still begs resolution (and the 
first group has bad internal resolution too). With ratites, it is not even a 
matter of verification vs falsification - it's a matter of "what is falsified 
least often?"


Eike


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