on a recent paper on phylogeny

Subject: on a recent paper on phylogeny
From: David James <>
Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 11:36:26 +1000
>Date:         Tue, 13 Oct 1998 23:00:56 +0900
>Reply-To: Fer-Jan de Vries <>
>Sender: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification
>              <>
>From: Fer-Jan de Vries <>
>Subject:      [BIRDWG01] on a recent paper on phylogeny
>I would like to draw attention to a recent paper on phylogeny:
>        Two spinal cords in birds:
>        novel insights in early avian evolution.
>        C.Jeffery Woodbury.
>        Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B(1998) 265, 1697-1705
>In this interesting paper the "dorsal horn of the spinal grey matter"
>is analysed in a great variety of bird species.
>The conclusion is that "the traditional orders (Wetmore 1960)
>Gruiformes, Columbiformes, Cuculiformes, and Piciformes are
>unnatural", and that "the most successful group of birds, songbirds of
>the order Passeriformes, arose far earlier than is generally believed,
>well before the origine of most non-passerines."
>The message of the paper, as far as I understand it, is that the
>division of birds in "primitive" Palaeognaths and "modern" Neognaths
>is characterized by the structure of the dorsal horn, which can be
>split (schizocerate) in case of the Neognaths or non-split
>(leiocerate) in case of the Palaeognaths and more generally the
>Amniotes, the most recent common ancestors of extant mammals and
>reptiles, and all their descendants. In order words, the splitted
>dorsal horn seems to be a recent character of only a modern group of
>The author checked the dorsal horn systematically. He found that the
>"old birds" ratites and tinamous, as well as the cranes and allies,
>doves, cuckoos, woodpecker-like birds and songbirds have non-split
>dorsal horns, and that all the other birds have split dorsal horns.
>Interestingly four taxa are polymorphic: Gruiformes, Columbiformes,
>Cuculiformes and Piciformes, suggesting that these taxa are not
>"secure", and apparently these taxa have been debated in the past.
>Gruiformes: most Gruiformes are non-split,
>        but bustards and sunbittern  are split.
>Columbiformes: pigeons and doves are all non-split,
>        but sandgrouse are split
>Cuculiformes: cuckoos are non-split,
>        but tauracos and the hoatzin are split.
>Piciformes: suborder of Pici (woodpeckers, toucans, and barbets) are
>        all non-split
>        suborder Galbulae is polymorphic: puffbirds are non-split
>                                          jacamars are split.
>Have a look at it!
>Fer-Jan de Vries,
>Tsukuba, Japan.
David James
PO BOX 5225
Townsville Mail Centre 4810

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