New avian cladogram comes as a shock!!!

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 20 15:04:06 CST 2002

Dear All,
     I have just learned of the publication of a new paper which has a
direct bearing on my recent proposals on avian classification.  This is not
the cladistic analysis which I was referring to in those posts (a bigger
analysis which is still in progress)----this one came completely out of the
blue.  In the cladogram-classification below you will see that it supports
my very controversial decision to place Order Caenagnathiformes (=
Oviraptorosauria) with the confuciusornithid birds.  This result really
makes my day, since some of the dinosaur workers were making fun of me when
I proposed it.  The laughter seems to now be giving way to raised eyebrows
and a few jaws dropping.
     However, this new analysis also places therizinosaurs (a.k.a.
segnosaurs) among birds more derived than Archaeopteryx.  This is definitely
food for thought, but that particular result seems rather suspicious to me,
since it would require some really *major* reversals.  Therizinosaur fossil
remains are very scrappy, and I predict that they will still end up
branching off between ornithomimosaurs and dromaeosaurs.   We shall see.
     In any case, these results will clearly come as a huge shock to many
vertebrate paleontologists, many of whom thought an "enigmosaur" clade was
pretty much a done deal.  Needless to say, I find these results quite
exciting, and I'm now even more determined to finish redefining and
reclassifying Class Aves, with a revised (and less arbitrary) concept of
what a bird is.  It should also help demonstrate that cladists and
eclecticists can converge on similar results independently (and if we work
together, we can do this a lot more efficiently in the future).
     The only change in my classification (from these results) will probably
be quite minor---namely, placing Family Confuciusornithidae in a more basal
position within Order Caenagnathiformes.  This will be even more
parsimonious since it requires fewer transitions to secondary
flightlessness.  Things are really starting to fall into place.
        ------ Cheers,  Ken Kinman
>    Maryanska, T., Osmólska, H., and Wolsan, M.  2002.  Avialan status for
>Oviraptorosauria.  Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 47(1):97-116.
>       Coelurosauria
>         Tyrannosauridae
>         Maniraptoriformes
>           Ornithomimosauria
>           Maniraptora/Eumaniraptora
>             Dromaeosauridae
>             Avialae
>               Therizinosauria
>               Clade A
>                 Archaeopteryx
>                 Clade B
>                   Confuciusornis
>                   Oviraptorosauria
>                     Avimimus
>                     Clade C
>                       Caudipteryx
>                       Oviraptoroidea
>                         Caenagnathidae
>                         Oviraptoridae

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