RFI: Lyrebirds as origin of songbirds

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Subject: RFI: Lyrebirds as origin of songbirds
From: Syd Curtis <>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 11:30:41 +1000
I recently had the pleasure of taking two American visitors to Lamington
National Park for a couple of days.  They had come to Australia because of a
particular interest in lyrebirds.  After hearing Albert's in Lamington they
were going to Victoria to visit Healesville and Sherbrooke Forest for

I was asked what did I think of the argument that all songbirds originated
in Australia and that the lyrebird is the "oldest" songbird?

Being a lyrebird addict from way back, I like the idea, but that doesn't
make it correct, and I have no expertise in evolution generally or birds in
particular.  I did point out that lyrebirds and scrubbirds have fewer
syringeal muscles than the general run of Oscines, and that it seemed to me
that evolution towards a more complex syrinx was more likely than the
reverse.  But really, I'm right out of my depth here.

Now I'm intrigued.  I'd be most grateful for comment from any birding-aus


Syd Curtis in Brisbane.

PS  And BTW I also like the idea that flying-foxes (fruit-bats) are primates
that evolved flight rather than bats that became vegetarians.


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