Senckenbergiana lethaea

, Volume 84, Issue 1–2, pp 317–322 | Cite as

Phylogenetic relationships of the early Tertiary Messel rails (Aves, Messelornithidae)

Article

Abstract

Messel rails (Messelornithidae) are among the best represented fossil birds and are considered to be the sister taxon of the extant South American sunbittern (Eurypygidae). However, it is shown that the original description of these birds contains several misinterpretations and that the presumed synapomorphies of the taxon (Messelornithidae + Eurypygidae) are not present in Messel rails. Moreover, it is generally assumed that the closest extant relative of sunbitterns is the New Caledonian kagu (Rhynochetidae), and Messel rails lack significant derived characters supporting monophyly of the taxon (Rhynochetidae + Eurypygidae). Derived characters are presented which support sister group relationship between Messelornithidae and the taxon (Rallidae + Heliornithidae).

Key words

Aves Eocene Messelornithidae phylogenetic relationships 

Kurzfassung

Messelrallen (Messelornithidae) zählen zu den häufigsten fossilen Vögeln und werden für das Schwestertaxon der rezenten Sonnenrallen (Eurypygidae) gehalten. Die Originalbeschreibung dieser Vögel enthält allerdings einige Fehlinterpretationen und die mutmaßlichen Synapomorphien des Taxons (Messelornithidae + Eurypygidae) konnten für die Messelrallen nicht bestätigt werden. Es wird darüber hinaus im allgemeinen angenommen, daß der nächste lebende Verwandte der Sonnenrallen der neukaledonische Kagu (Rhynochetidae) ist und Messelrallen fehlen wichtige Synapomorphien des Taxon (Rhynochetidae + Eurypygidae). Abgeleitete Merkmale werden beschrieben, die eine Schwestergruppenbeziehung zwischen den Messelornithidae und dem Taxon (Rallidae + Heliornithidae) begründen.

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Copyright information

© E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sektion OrnithologieForschungsinstitut SenckenbergFrankfurt am Main

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