These two storks (or stork-like kingfishers)
(Figs 1, 2) are identical, but geographical separated cousins with inflatable necks. The South American jabiru (Jabiru mycteria, Lichtenstein 1819) has been described as ‘the largest and most striking of the American storks.’
By contrast, the skeletally identical
African marabou (Fig 2, Leptoptilos crumenifer, Lesson 1831), was described by the same author as ‘amongst the most hideous birds in the world’, ‘ungainly’ and ‘grotesque’.
These two taxa would have been congeneric
if found in the fossil record. Geography has separated these two over a hundred million years ago, coeval with many famous dinosaurs, then terror birds and finally primitive peoples.
These two nearly congeneric birds
now living on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean add evidence to a common origin in the Early Cretaceous. That hypothesis was first explored here with similarly split hornbills and toucans (Fig 5).
With basalmost crown birds appearing in the Early Cretaceous
and derived birds, like the marabou, jabiru, hornbill and toucan radiating before the Atlantic had become an ocean, and penguins appearing in the Paleocene, more and more birds, maybe most of them, seem to have had their genesis and radiation in the Cretaceous.
As predicted yesterday
additions to the LRT are going to start looking more and more like current members. The geographic separation of these two sisters (Figs 1, 2) is the real story here. As this example demonstrates, sometimes the key part of the story is not always found in the skeleton.
Lesson R 1831. Traité d’Ornithologie
Lichtenstein H 1819. Archives of Natural History, Volume 35(1):88-99.
Linnaeus C 1758. Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata.
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