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New invalid genomic bird clade: Feraequornithes

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According to Sangster and Mayr 2021,
“Recent genomic data sets have resolved many aspects of higher-level phylogenetic relationships of birds. Eleven phylogenomic studies provide congruent support for a clade formed by Procellariiformes, Sphenisciformes, Ciconiiformes, Suliformes and Pelecaniformes. This clade is here named ‘Feraequornithes’ following the rules and requirements of the PhyloCode.”

Procellariiformes = albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters.
Sphenisciformes = penguins.
Ciconiiformes = six families of storklike birds: herons and bitterns (Ardeidae), the shoebill (sole species of the Balaenicipitidae), the hammerhead (sole species of the Scopidae), typical storks and wood storks (Ciconiidae), ibis and spoonbills (Threskiornithidae).
Suliformes = gannets.
Pelecaniformes = pelicans

Here is how these five genomic clades appear
in the Large Reptile Tree (LRT, 1829+ taxa; subset Fig. 1). As you can see they are not a monophyletic clade when tested for traits. Even the genomic Ciconiformes do not produce a monophyletic phenomic clade.

Figure 1. Subset of the LRT focusing on birds. This LRT uses visible, measurable traits, not genes. Even the genomic Ciconiformes do not produce a monophyletic clade.

According to Wikipedia:
“Classically, bird relationships were based solely on morphological characteristics.”

paleontologists, like Sangster and Mayr, will return someday to morphological characteristics.

According to Wikipedia:
Sibley and Ahlquist’s landmark DNA-DNA hybridisation studies (see Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy) led to them placing the families traditionally contained within the Pelecaniformes together with the grebes, cormorants, ibises and spoonbills, New World vultures, storks, penguins, albatrosses, petrels, and loons together as a subgroup within a greatly expanded order Ciconiiformes, a radical move which by now has been all but rejected: their “Ciconiiformes” merely assembled all early advanced land- and seabirds for which their research technique delivered insufficient phylogenetic resolution.”

Turns out those landmark DNA studies
turned out to confuse, rather than clarify bird interrelationships.

Sangster G and Mayr G 2021. Feraequornithes: a name for the clade formed by Procellariiformes, Sphenisciformes, Ciconiiformes, Suliformes and Pelecaniformes (Aves).
Vertebrate Zoology 71: 49-53. https://doi:10.3897/vz.71.e61728
Sibley CG and Ahlquist, JE 1990. Phylogeny and classification of birds. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.


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