A crow, owl and swift are added to the LRT

Today
several taxa (in yellow-green, listed below, Figs. 1-3) were added to the LRT. Along the way several scoring errors were corrected which shifted the giant sea bird with bony teeth, Pelagornis (in amber, Fig. 4), to nest with Macronectes, the petrel.

Figure 1. The latest additions to the LRT are shown in light green. Pelagornis, which has just moved to nest with petrels, is in amber.

Figure 1. The latest additions to the LRT are shown in light green. Pelagornis, which has just moved to nest with petrels, is in amber.

Corvus the crow nests between the the heron, Ardea, and a large clade that includes flying sea birds, storks, ducks, vultures, hummingbirds, dippers, wrens and penguins.

Figure 2. Apus the common swift is actually a close relative of the falcon and owl, not a hummingbird.

Figure 2. Apus the common swift is actually a close relative of the falcon and owl, not a hummingbird.

Apus the swift nests between Falco the falcon and Tyto, the barn owl. Earlier Eocypselus was promoted as a swift + hummingbird ancestor. Here Eocypselus is only a hummingbird relative.

Figure 3. Tyto, the barn owl, nests very close to Apus, the swift.

Figure 3. Tyto, the barn owl, nests very close to Apus, the swift.

Pelagornis, the giant sea bird, has a new skull shape (Fig. 4). This came about after the realization that some birds have a very long maxilla. Other birds essentially turn the maxilla into a vestige. We’ll look at that major difference and many others in a future blog post.

FIgure 1. Pelagornis, new reconstruction of skull along with overall reconstruction from Mayr and Rubilar-Rogers

FIgure 4. Pelagornis, new reconstruction of skull along with overall reconstruction from Mayr and Rubilar-Rogers

Birds are tough,
but I’m learning their details along the way. Phylogenetic analysis is a great way to dissect a taxon, trait by trait.

References
wiki/Macronectes
wiki/Pelagornis
wiki/Apus
wiki/Tyto

1 thought on “A crow, owl and swift are added to the LRT

  1. You’re turning up some very strange bedfellows (nest-fellows?) indeed, although I’ll buy the Owl-Swift linkage. The _Corvus_ placement is to say the least a bit of a surprise, since IIRC traditionally the crows have been seen as basial passerines.

    “Birds are tough”, I suppose because so many characters are tied into the flight mechanism and so largely fixed, while all the peripheral bits, beaks, feet and so on are probably highly labile, easily adapting to a change of behaviour, diet, habitat etc. with many twists and turns and parallel developments. How many traditional bird taxa, I wonder, will turn out to be polyphyletic?

    Anyway, Good Luck! (But where is all the reaction, criticism etc. ???)

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