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Re: avian nomenclature
Saint Abyssal <email@example.com> wrote:
> Why is bird taxonomy so chaotic?
Yep, 'chaotic' sums it up. The contents and monophyly of many bird orders is
still in a state of flux. Also, in many of these classifications oddball or
hard-to-place taxa are often given their own order (like the hoatzin, or
cuckoo-roller). When a molecular phylogenetic analysis finds that a particular
bird species no longer belongs to a known order, it's assumed to represent its
own lineage. But it might just be a 'rogue' taxon, playing havoc with the
The trouble is that (with few exceptions) we lack fossils from at or near the
critical branching points in neornithean evolution, corresponding to when
different 'orders' first appeared. A similar problem occurs with placentals.
I'm certain we know more about the relationships of non-avian theropod taxa
than we do about the relationships of modern bird orders (Neornithes).
> Shouldn't genetics be able to resolve disputes quickly?
Molecular phylogenetic analysis ("genetics") is no silver bullet. Some people
treat this method as if it's a panacea to resolving the relationships of extant
taxa; but unfortunately it's not that easy. Molecular analyses have just as
many flaws and quirks as morphological ones - some the same, some different.