Mousebird

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Mousebirds
Temporal range: Early Paleocene to present
Urocolius macrourus-20090110B.jpg
Blue-naped mousebird (Urocolius macrourus)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Coraciimorphae
Order: Coliiformes
Murie, 1872
Family: Coliidae
Swainson, 1837
Genera

Colius
Urocolius
For fossil taxa, see text.

The mousebirds (family Coliidae, order Coliiformes) are a family of birds. They are the sister group to the clade Eucavitaves, which includes the cuckoo roller (Leptosomatiformes), trogons (Trogoniformes), Bucerotiformes, Coraciformes and Piciformes.[1] The mousebirds are therefore given order status as Coliiformes. This group is confined to sub-Saharan Africa, and is the only bird order confined entirely to that continent. They had a wider range in prehistoric times, with a widespread distribution in Europe and North America during the Paleocene.[2]

Description

They are slender greyish or brown birds with soft, hairlike body feathers. They are typically about 10 cm in body length, with a long, thin tail a further 20–24 cm in length, and weigh 45–55 grams.[3] They are arboreal and scurry through the leaves like rodents, in search of berries, fruit and buds. This habit, and their legs, gives rise to the group's English name. They are acrobatic, and can feed upside down. All species have strong claws and reversible outer toes (pamprodactyl feet). They also have crests and stubby bills.

Behaviour and ecology

Mousebirds are gregarious, again reinforcing the analogy with mice, and are found in bands of about 20 in lightly wooded country. These birds build cup-shaped twig nests in trees, which are lined with grasses. Two to four eggs are typically laid, hatching to give altricial young which develop quickly and soon leave the nest and acquire flight.[citation needed]

Systematics and evolution

The mousebirds could be considered "living fossils" as the 6 species extant today are merely the survivors of a lineage that was massively more diverse in the early Paleogene and Miocene. There are comparatively abundant fossils of Coliiformes, but it has not been easy to assemble a robust phylogeny. The family is documented to exist from the Early Paleocene onwards; by at least the Late Eocene, two families are known to have existed, the extant Coliidae and the longer-billed prehistorically extinct Sandcoleidae.[2]

The latter were previously a separate order,[4] but eventually it was realized that they had come to group ancestral Coraciiformes, the actual sandcoleids and forms like Neanis together in a paraphyletic assemblage. Even though the sandcoleids are now assumed to be monophyletic following the removal of these taxa, many forms cannot be conclusively assigned to one family or the other.[5] The genus Selmes, for example, is probably a coliid, but only distantly related to the modern genera.[6]

Taxonomy

Order COLIIFORMES[7][8]

Footnotes

  1. ^ Jarvis, E. D.; Mirarab, S.; Aberer, A. J.; et al. (2014). "Whole-genome analyses resolve early branches in the tree of life of modern birds". Science. 346 (6215): 1320–1331. doi:10.1126/science.1253451. PMC 4405904. PMID 25504713.
  2. ^ a b Ksepka, D.T.; Stidham, T.A.; Williamson, T.E. "Early Paleocene landbird supports rapid phylogenetic and morphological diversification of crown birds after the K–Pg mass extinction". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi:10.1073/pnas.1700188114.
  3. ^ Cunningham-Van Someren, G.R. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 138–139. ISBN 1-85391-186-0.
  4. ^ Houde & Olson (1992)
  5. ^ Mayr & Mourer-Chauviré (1999)
  6. ^ It has a peculiar foot morphology not found in any other bird, with very stubby toes. The specific name absurdipes ("absurd foot") refers to this. The genus name is an anagram of "Messel", where it was first found.
  7. ^ Mikko's Phylogeny Archive [1] Haaramo, Mikko (2007). "Aves [Avialae]– basal birds". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  8. ^ Paleofile.com (net, info) [2]. "Aves". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  9. ^ Similar to Urocolius and Limnatornis (if distinct): Mlíkovský (2002)
  10. ^ Peter Ballmann (1969): Les oiseaux miocènes de La Grive-Saint-Alban (Isère). – Géobios 2: p 157-204.
  11. ^ Storrs Olson (1985): The Fossil Record of Birds In: Avian Biology, No. 8: p. 79–238

References

  • Hackett, S.; et al. (2008). "A Phylogenomic Study of Birds Reveals Their Evolutionary History". Science. 320 (5884): 1763–1768. doi:10.1126/science.1157704. PMID 18583609.
  • Houde, Peter; Olson, Storrs L. (1992). "A radiation of coly-like birds from the Eocene of North America (Aves: Sandcoleiformes, new order)" (PDF). Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Science Series. 36: 137–160.
  • Mayr, Gerald; Mourer-Chauviré, Cécile (1999). "Unusual tarsometatarsus of a mousebird from the Paleogene of France and the relationships of Selmes Peters, 1999" (PDF). J. Vertebr. Paleontol. 24 (2): 366–372.
  • McCormack, J.E. et al. (2012) A phylogeny of birds based on over 1,500 loci collected by target enrichment and high-throughput sequencing.
  • Mlíkovský, Jirí (2002): Cenozoic Birds of the World, Part 1: Europe. Ninox Press, Prague. ISBN 80-901105-3-8 PDF fulltext

External links

  • Mousebird videos on the Internet Bird Collection
  • Picture of a mousebird atop a tree
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