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*Fluvioviridavis* is a Podargiform, PLoS ONE (OA)
Nesbitt, S. J., Ksepka, D., T. & Clarke, J. A. 2011. Podargiform affinities and
the enigmatic *Fluvioviridavis platyrhamphus* and the early diversification of
Strisores ("Caprimulgiformes" + Apodiformes). _PLoS ONE_ 6(11):e26350.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026350 [Open Access, link below]
The early Eocene Green River Formation avifauna preserves exceptional exemplars
of the earliest unambiguous stem representatives of many extant avian clades.
We identify the basal-most member of Podargiformes (extant and fossil stem
lineage frogmouths) based on a new specimen of *Fluvioviridavis platyrhamphus*,
a unique neoavian bird from the Fossil Butte Member of the Green River
Formation of Wyoming. Extant frogmouths (Podargidae) comprise approximately 13
nocturnal species with an exclusively Australasian distribution.
The new specimen was included in a combined phylogenetic analysis of
morphological (osteology and soft tissue) and molecular sequence (_cytochrome
b_, _c-myc exon 3_, and _RAG_) data sampling species-level taxa from both
extant and extinct members of Steatornithidae, Podargidae, Caprimulgidae,
Nyctibiidae, Aegothelidae, and Apodiformes ( = Strisores). New data from *F.
platyrhamphus* help resolve phylogenetic relationships within Strisores,
supporting placement of *F. platyrhamphus* and the European fossil form
*Masillapodargus longipes* as basal parts of Podargiformes and also supporting
a sister taxon relationship between Podargiformes and Steatornithiformes
(oilbirds) within Strisores. This relationship is recovered only when fossil
taxa are included, reaffirming the potential impact of stem fossil taxa on
inferences of phylogenetic relationships. The well-preserved mandible and
palate of the new specimen demonstrate that many of the unique characteristics
of the skull that characterize the crown frogmouth clade Podargidae arose early
in the evolutionary history of the clade, over 50 million years ago.
Comparisons with the new specimen also indicate that *Eurofluvioviridavis* and
*Fluvioviridavis* are not closely related.
Together with the European fossil frogmouth *Masillapodargus*,
*Fluvioviridavis* shows that Podargiformes had a much wider geographic
distribution in the past, whereas extant species are restricted to Australasia.
The Eocene record of Strisores from the Green River Formation and Messel
Formation indicates most major subclade divergences had already occurred by the
Jaime A. Headden
The Bite Stuff (site v2)
"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)
"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a
different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race
has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or
his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion