NeoavesDavid P. Mindell, Joseph W. Brown, and John Harshman
This tree diagram shows the relationships between several groups of organisms.
The root of the current tree connects the organisms featured in this tree to their containing group and the rest of the Tree of Life. The basal branching point in the tree represents the ancestor of the other groups in the tree. This ancestor diversified over time into several descendent subgroups, which are represented as internal nodes and terminal taxa to the right.
You can click on the root to travel down the Tree of Life all the way to the root of all Life, and you can click on the names of descendent subgroups to travel up the Tree of Life all the way to individual species.close box
This tree represents a considerable reorganization of avian relationships on the basis of two extensive genetic studies (Hackett et al. 2008, Ericson et al. 2006). Several traditional orders have been rearranged, and relationships among orders have been greatly altered. Orders may not have their traditional contents. Families and genera listed independently here have been removed from their traditional orders.
Some recent studies of morphology (e.g. Livezey and Zusi 2007) have strongly contradicted this arrangement and have supported traditional relationships.
"Land Birds" and "Water Birds" are informal names for two large clades within Neoaves, each encompassing several traditional orders.
Gruiformes, previously a very diverse order, has been considerably reduced: Eurypygidae (sunbittern), Rhynochetidae (kagu), Otididae (bustards), and Mesitornithidae (mesites) are traditionally considered gruiforms but do not belong there, nor do Cariamidae (seriemas), which are placed within "Land Birds", or Turnicidae (buttonquails), which are placed within Charadriiformes. Phaethontidae (tropicbirds) likewise are traditionally considered to belong to Pelecaniformes, within "Water Birds", but do not belong there.
Caprimulgiformes traditionally includes Aegothelidae (owlet-nightjars), but this familly is more closely related to Apodiformes. Relationships among the remaining families of Caprimulgiformes are currently not well resolved, and we don't yet know whether Caprimulgiformes (with owlet-nightjars removed) is monophyletic or paraphyletic.
Fain and Houde (2004) have suggested that Neoaves is divided into two clades, Coronaves (taxa from "Land Birds" through Musophagiformes on this tree) and Metaves (Opisthocomiformes through Phoenicopteriformes). However, support for this hypothesis is so far restricted to a single gene, and confirmation is needed.
The relationship between Podicipediformes (grebes) and Phoenicopteriformes (flamingos), odd as it seems, was first hypothesized by van Tuinen et al. (2001), and has been confirmed by nearly every subsequent molecular analysis.
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David P. Mindell
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California, USA
Joseph W. Brown
University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to John Harshman at
Page: Tree of Life Neoaves. Authored by David P. Mindell, Joseph W. Brown, and John Harshman. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.
- First online 14 December 2005
- Content changed 27 June 2008
Citing this page:
Mindell, David P., Joseph W. Brown, and John Harshman. 2008. Neoaves. Version 27 June 2008 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Neoaves/26305/2008.06.27 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/