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Osteology and systematics of the Fernbirds (Bowdleria: Sylviidae)

TitleOsteology and systematics of the Fernbirds (Bowdleria: Sylviidae)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1990
AuthorsOlson, SL
Type of Articlepaper

Although the New Zealand fernbirds were long maintained in their own genus Bowdleria, some authors have recently submerged them in the Australasian genus Megalurus. The osteology of the fernbirds shows them to be very distinct, however, so that the genus Bowdleria is fully justified. The skull of Bowdleria is most similar to that of Amphilais ("Dromaeocercus") seebohmi of Madagascar and these two species are similar in plumage and tail structure as well. A particularly close relationship between Bowdleria and Megalurus may thus be doubted. Bowdleria is characterized by reduced elements of the wing and pectoral girdle, and a strikingly modified pelvis combined with very robust hindlimb elements. This functional complex of the hindlimb is quite unlike any of the presumed close relatives of Bowdleria, but convergent similarities are identified in several other passerine groups. On the basis of plumage and osteology. Bowdleria rufescens of the Chatham Islands is a very distinct species from B. punctata.

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