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 Origin and evolution

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kosovohp



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PostSubject: Origin and evolution   Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:26 pm


The evolutionary history of the passerine families and the relationships among them remained rather mysterious until the late 20th century. Many passerine families were grouped together on the basis of morphological similarities that, it is now believed, are the result of convergent evolution, not a close genetic relationship. For example, the "wrens" of the northern hemisphere, those of Australia, and those of New Zealand look very similar and behave in similar ways, and yet belong to three far-flung branches of the passerine family tree; they are as unrelated as it is possible to be while remaining Passeriformes.[3]

Much research remains to be done, but advances in molecular biology and improved paleobiogeographical data are gradually revealing a clearer picture of passerine origins and evolution that reconciles molecular affinities, the constraints of morphology and the specifics of the fossil record.[4] It is now thought that the first passerines evolved in Gondwana at some time in the Paleogene, maybe around the Late Paleocene some 6055 mya.[5] The initial split was between the Tyranni, the songbirds, the Eurylaimides and the New Zealand "wrens", which must have diverged during a short period of time (some million years at most). The Passeriformes apparently evolved out of a fairly close-knit clade of "near passerines" which contains such birds as the Piciformes and Coraciiformes.[

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