Original Article

Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 148, Issue 4, pp 471-476

First online:

On the phylogenetic position of the scrub-birds (Passeriformes: Menurae: Atrichornithidae) of Australia

  • R. Terry ChesserAffiliated withAustralian National Wildlife Collection, CSIRO Sustainable EcosystemsUSGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, National Museum of Natural History Email author 
  • , José ten HaveAffiliated withAustralian National Wildlife Collection, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems

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Evolutionary relationships of the scrub-birds Atrichornis were investigated using complete sequences of the recombination-activating gene RAG-1 and the proto-oncogene c-mos for two individuals of the noisy scrub-bird Atrichornis clamosus. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that Atrichornis was sister to the genus Menura (the lyrebirds) and that these two genera (the Menurae) were sister to the rest of the oscine passerines. A sister relationship between Atrichornis and Menura supports the traditional view, based on morphology and DNA hybridization, that these taxa are closely related. Similarly, a sister relationship with the remaining oscine passerines agrees with the morphological distinctiveness of Atrichornis and Menura, although this result contradicts conclusions based on DNA hybridization studies. Although Atrichornis is very well known morphologically, previous conclusions regarding its relationships were hampered by a lack of comparative knowledge of other passerines, making concurrence of the sequence data of particular significance.


Atrichornis Menurae Passeriformes Phylogenetics Scrub-birds