Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 145, Issue 3, pp 223–226 | Cite as

Affinities of Carpospiza brachydactyla (Passeriformes; Passeridae)

  • Walter J. Bock
Original Article


The Passeridae are characterized by possessing a neomorphic preglossale bone in the tongue and a uniquely enlarged M. hypoglossus anterior forming part of the “seed-cup” used to orient and hold seeds in position when they are being husked. The pale rock finch (Carpospiza brachydactyla), which had been suggested in recent years to be allied to the Fringillidae rather than to the Passeridae, also possesses these unique derived features of the passerine finches and hence is clearly a member of the latter group. Further, the combination of the neomorphic preglossale bone and the large M. hypoglossus anterior provide strong support for the independent evolution of granivorous feeding in the Passeridae and against the placement of these birds with any members of the Ploceidae.


Carpospiza Passeridae Preglossale Systematics 



I would like to thank Dr. E.N. Panov and the authorities of the Zoological Museum in Leningrad for their kindness in making these specimens available to me and for giving me permission to undertake full dissections of the jaw and tongue muscles. I was able to undertake these dissections in the laboratory of Professor Felix Dzerzhinsky (University of Moscow) which I was visiting in the fall, 1981, while assisting the Soviet hosts of the 18th International Ornithological Congress, Moscow, August 1982. I would like to thank him for making available the facilities with which to do these dissections and for the useful and interesting discussions we had on avian morphology and systematics during this time. I would like to thank the late Professor H. Mendelssohn for alerting me to the question of the affinities of Carpospiza brachydactyla and for sharing his findings and conclusions with me. I would further like to thank Franz Bairlein for inviting me to join in this special issue of the Journal for Ornithology.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V.  2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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