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Re: Willie Wonka and the New Papers

> IMHO the essay makes sense and is in principle
> testable. 

We have the N Caucasus _Argornis_. Perhaps a bit too
late and a basal cypselomorph?, but the kind of
*deposit* it came from would be what one would want to
check. _Argornis_ and any near passerine would
presumably have had rather overlapping habitat
preferences and their corpses by and large would have
ended up in the same environment.

The odds are certainly better than in Nepal where the
erstwhile habitat would have been crushed up
chaotically for the most part or further SE where
conditions for preservation suck by comparison.

Also, it would be foolish to do ANY cladistic analysis
without the best data from a wryneck and a flicker and
the Antillean Piculet as a minimum :-) See:
Benz et al (2006): Evolutionary history of woodpeckers
and allies (Aves: Picidae): Placing key taxa on the
phylogenetic tree. Molecular Phylogenetics and
Evolution 40: 389 – 399.

Piculets, as I mentioned, are apparently very
bottlenecky, which might obfuscate phylogenetic
information by to character drift. It may be wise to
try leaving them out.

See also Mayr's papers
2001: The earliest fossil record of a modern-type
piciform bird from the late Oligocene of Germany.
Journal für Ornithologie, 142 (1): 2-6. 
2004: The phylogenetic relationships of the early
Tertiary Primoscenidae and Sylphornithidae and the
sister taxon of crown group piciform birds. Journal of
Ornithology, 145 (3): 188-198.

The new paper is basically an expansion of the latter.
See also the discussion of molecular data at the end
of the 2004 paper, which either way would increase the
number of stem lineages we know already by about again
as much.


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