Avian Phylogeny (Correction)

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Oct 4 15:59:59 CDT 2002

Dear All,
      In my avian classification posted a few days ago, I jumped
avimimiforms and mononykiforms down too many nodes.  In other words, I
"swung the pendulum" too far the other way.  Guess I'd better practice what
I preach!!!
      This overcorrection was mainly due to confusion over what different
workers mean when they say ornithurine.  I was shocked to learn how many
different "Ornithurae" clades are floating around out there, some much
broader than Ornithothoraces (rather than being a subclade of the latter).
     This along with the polyphyletic Alvarezsauria and "Enigmosauria" is
causing a lot of communication problems.  It's almost as bad as the
continued usage of "Arctometatarsalia" as a clade which now only includes
ornithomimosaurs (and excludes all the other groups with arctometatarsalian
feet).  This makes me fear PhyloCode all the more.
     Anyway, due to some miscommunications, I jumped the avimimiforms and
mononykiforms further down than I should have.  It took me several days to
realize this, but I'll be remedying this overcorrection as soon as I sort
through the whole basal ornithothoracean mess.  I really hate it when the
pendulum gets swung too far, especially when I end up doing it myself.
Shame on me.
     But otherwise, I am quite happy with how the avian classification is
progressing.  Caenagnathiformes (oviraptorosaurs) and Mononykiformes are
clearly birds more advanced than Archaeopteryx, and therefore belong in
Class AVES even by cladistic definition.
      Note that I also moved troodonts to a position more derived than
Archaeopteryx, now convinced that they are neoflightless.  However, the
debate over whether dromaeosaurs are neoflightless will continue to be
heated.  The Czerkas' new book stirred up that can of worms again, and I'm
not sure how that will end up (too close to call).
          ------ Cheers,   Ken

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