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Title: Taxon sampling artifacts and the phylogenetic position of Aves.
Authors: Senter, Philip James.
Issue Date: 2003
Publisher: Northern Illinois University.
Abstract: Heretofore, the three major hypotheses as to the phylogenetic position of Aves within Diapsida have not been tested by phylogenetic analysis. These hypotheses are (1) that Aves falls within the dinosaurian taxon Theropoda, (2) that Aves is closely related to Crocodylomorpha, and (3) that Aves is most closely related to some archosauromorph taxon that is neither dinosaurian nor closely related to Crocodylomorpha. Numerous published phylogenetic studies include birds and/or putative avian relatives, but, in all cases, taxonomic sampling artifacts obscure the relationships between birds and their hypothetical relatives.Taxonomic sampling artifacts fall into three categories: BABILON (Branch Attraction By Ingroup Limitation or Outgroup Nomination), BAAL (Branch Attraction After Lumping), and PHAMIN (PHyletic Attraction due to Missing INtermediates). BABILON is the forcing of a taxon into a larger taxon by limitation of other ingroups to members of the latter, or forcing a taxon out of a larger taxon by nominating the latter as outgroup. BAAL is obscuration of relationships by including composite, paraphyletic, or polyphyletic taxa in the analysis. PHAMIN is erroneous pairing of taxa as a result of large evolutionary distances between operational taxonomic units.Here, three phylogenetic analyses were conducted to find the phylogenetic position of Aves while avoiding BABILON, BAAL, and PHAMIN. Avian manual digits were scored as digits I-II-III in the first analysis, II-III-IV in the second, and ?-?-? in the third. All three analyses place Aves within the theropod clade Coelurosauria, and place the other putative bird relatives far from Aves. Decay, bootstrap, and constraint analyses reveal strong support for the placement of Aves within Theropoda by all three analyses.
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