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Coraciiformes (1 Viewer)

Peter Kovalik

Well-known member
McCullough JM, Moyle RG, Smith BT, Andersen MJ. 2019 A Laurasian origin for a pantropical bird radiation is supported by genomic and fossil data (Aves: Coraciiformes). Proc. R. Soc. B 286: 20190122. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.0122


The evolution of pantropically distributed clades has puzzled palaeo- and neontologists for decades regarding the different hypotheses about where they originated. In this study, we explored how a pantropical distribution arose in a diverse clade with a rich fossil history: the avian order Coraciiformes. This group has played a central role in the debate of the biogeographical history of Neoaves. However, the order lacked a coherent species tree to inform study of its evolutionary dynamics. Here, we present the first complete species tree of Coraciiformes, produced with 4858 ultraconserved elements, which supports two clades: (1) Old World-restricted bee-eaters, rollers and ground-rollers; and (2) New World todies and motmots, and cosmopolitan kingfishers. Our results indicated two pulses of diversification: (1) major lineages of Coraciiformes arose in Laurasia approximately 57 Ma, followed by independent dispersals into equatorial regions, possibly due to tracking tropical habitat into the lower latitudes—the Coracii (Coraciidae + Brachypteraciidae) into the Afrotropics, bee-eaters throughout the Old World tropics, and kingfishers into the Australasian tropics; and (2) diversification of genera in the tropics during the Miocene and Pliocene. Our study supports the important role of Laurasia as the geographical origin of a major pantropical lineage and provides a new framework for comparative analyses in this charismatic bird radiation.
A posthumous paper by Anita Gamauf

Origins, identification and type status of two early specimens of Society Kingfisher Todiramphus veneratus (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) (Aves: Coraciiformes, Alcedinidae)


We re-examined the putative type specimen of Society Kingfisher Todiramphus veneratus (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) in the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (NMW 50.633) and conclude based on plumage that it represents the taxon from Moorea, T. veneratus youngi Sharpe, 1892, rather than nominate T. veneratus veneratus from Tahiti. X-rays reveal that it was prepared using techniques common in the late 18th century, and that its preparation style matches that of other specimens collected during Cook’s three voyages. NMW 50.633 has been assumed to be the one, or one of a number of, specimen(s) used by Latham to describe and illustrate his ‘Venerated Kingfisher’ (present-day Society Kingfisher), which was the basis of the later valid introduction of the name Alcedo venerata by J. F. Gmelin. However, whereas the description and an unpublished illustration in Latham’s archives agree closely with veneratus from Tahiti, NMW 50.633 appears to represent Moorea youngi. While this finding does not compromise the definition of Society Kingfisher veneratus, it leaves it without a safely identified type specimen. We also examined a Moorea specimen in the National Museums Liverpool (LIVCM D2366) that is almost as old as NMW 50.633, but which X-rays suggest had a different origin than NMW 50.633.

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