Re: Birds on evolutionary scale

To: Hugo Phillipps <>
Subject: Re: Birds on evolutionary scale
From: James Davis <>
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 11:25:27 +1000 (EST)

  I have never found thinking in terms of an evolutionary scale helpful
for understanding bird behaviour.  It is helpful to have information on
the phylogeny of a species; if two or more species are sufficiently
genetically related you can, theoretically by comparing species,
reconstruct or trace a change over time when certain adaptive traits arose
in a sequence (determining what caused a change is another matter all
together).  For various reason some people think some traits are more
evolutionarily advanced (rate them on a scale), and hence draw the
erronous conclusion that the taxonomic groups possessing susch and such 
a trait are more advance than those who don't. Although different groups
can be very distinct, there is no reason to conclude that one group is
more advance than another.  Would you agree with my understanding of the
source of the confusion?     


Dr. Wm. James Davis, Editor
Interpretive Birding Bulletin

On Tue, 17 Nov 1998, Hugo Phillipps wrote:

> Nigel -
> At 20:53 16/11/1998 +1100, you wrote:
> >Why are Magpies, Ravens, Currawongs and Crows considered to be the most
> >developed on an evolutionary scale?
> What evolutionary scale?  Would someone like to define one?  Is the concept
> any more than a teleological hangover?
> Cheers,  Hugo.
> Hugo Phillipps,
> Birds Australia Conservation & Liaison,
> Australian Bird Research Centre,
> 415 Riversdale Road,
> Hawthorn East, VIC 3123, Australia.
> Tel: (03) 9882 2622. Fax: (03) 9882 2677.
> O/s: +61 3 9882 2622. Fax: +61 3 9882 2677.
> Email: <>
> Web Homepage:

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