Megapodius: basal to all living birds (except ratites)

Figure 1. Megapodius is the extant bird nesting at the base of all neognathae (all living birds except ratites).

Figure 1. Megapodius is the extant bird nesting at the base of all neognathae (all living birds except ratites). And it looks like a basal bird, not too this… not too that.

So far, with the present list of tested taxa,
this living bird (Fig. 1) is the seemingly unchanged descendant of all living birds, other than the ratites and kiwis, according to the large reptile tree (LRT, 1089 taxa). Megapodius demonstrates that early neognaths, like their sister paleognaths, were long-legged terrestrial omnivores, able to fly, but not very well, despite the large and subdivided breastbone (keeled sternum) and long locked-down coracoids.

Figure 1. More taxa, updated tree, new clade names.

Figure 2. subset of the LRT focusing on birds and their ancestors

Megapodius freycinet (Gaimard 1823) is the extant dusky scrubfowl, one of the most primitive of living neognath birds. This one nests at the base of the hook-beak predatory birds, the most basal extant neognaths.

References
Gaimard JP 1823. Mémoire sur un nouveau genre de Gallinacés, establi sous le nom de Mégapode. Bulletin General et Universel des Annonces et de Nouvelles Scientifiques 2: 450-451.

https://www.gbif.org/species/2482114

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Megapodius: basal to all living birds (except ratites)

  1. You know you actually found Megapodius to be the first branching member of your predatory bird group, not “basal to all living birds (except ratites)?” If it were “basal to all living birds (except ratites)”, it would be outside the Tyto+Uria clade.

    • But “The most basal taxa in the most basal clade” is not the sister to that clade. By definition. Is the first child born of your first child your sister? No, it’s your granddaughter.

  2. You’re going the wrong direction, Mickey. Megapodius is the mother of all and grandmother and all. And such simplifications are for illustrative purposes only, both here and in the academic world. One intervening or added taxon could shift relationships and the status of presently tested taxa.

    • So if by your definition Megapodius is “basal to all living birds (except ratites)”, and the topology is like in the LRT-

      (basal birds ( (Ciconiiornithes,Gallornithes,etc.) (Megapodius,other Falcornithes) ) )

      … then how would you describe Megapodius’ position if the topology were this?

      (basal birds ( Megapodius ( Falcornithes (Ciconiiornithes,Gallornithes,etc.) ) ) )

      What is the taxon “basal to all living birds (except ratites)” in that topology?

    • That doesn’t answer my question.

      (basal birds ( Megapodius ( Falcornithes (Ciconiiornithes,Gallornithes,etc.) ) ) )

      What is the taxon “basal to all living birds (except ratites)” in that topology?

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