The shortest Tet Zoo blog post ever

i-5e2f3479c4f344e91332c3471cd814d8-AW-bird-July-2010-Jan-2011.jpg

Please identify. If possible, make it more interesting by saying something about the animal's behaviour, ecology and/or phylogenetic position (believe me, there is plenty to say). As usual, a smug sense of self-satisfaction to the winner.

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White-headed subspecies of Black Bulbul (I just searched "white-headed" on google.)

By anonymous (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

The Wikipedia bulbul page prooves tantalising....

By Yodelling Cyclist (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

I think it's a bird of some sort.

By Grep Agni (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

make it more interesting by saying something about the animal's behaviour, ecology and/or phylogenetic position

I choose 'None of the above' by saying something about its biogeography instead. If that is a Hypsipetes bulbul (which it would seem to be) it's a member of a clade with a rather peculiar global distribution. Some species of these bulbuls are found in tropical Asia, while others are found in Madagascar and the nearby islands. However, no Hypsipetes species are found on the African mainland*.

* The distribution of Hypsipetes bulbuls is somewhat similar to the distribution of Pteropus fruit bats; these, too, are absent from the African mainland but found in Madagascar + the Mascarene Islands and in tropical Asia, respectively (although the bats are more widespread than the bulbuls as they are also found in the Australasian region).

The Dodo and Solitaire of the Mascarenes where also from Asian origin and the giant tortoises and maybe the lizards too. (Phelsuma is also found on the Andaman isles)

By Wilbert Friesen (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

It's hard to tell with that bird in the way, but it looks like a poplar to me.

By frank habets (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

The pattern also seems to be present in Psittacula parrots (albeit without a Madagascar population).
Mainland Africa is only inhabited by ubiquitous P. krameri (though read on), with the majority of species living in southern/southeastern Asia. The genus is however present in the Andaman islands,Mascarenes and formerly in the Seychelles.
Interestingly, the Mascarene and Seychelles species likely represent different invasions.
- Mauritius has P. echo/P. eques (the only remaining Mascarene species), which appears very close to Asian P. krameri and less to African P. krameri. This strongly suggests that either the two species should be merged (as has been done in the past) or that P. krameri should be split.
-Mauritius also had P. bensoni (originally described as Lophopsittacus bensoni), which appears to have been a large grey species and likely an older arrival to the island.
- Reunion had P. echo/P. eques. The two are nowadays considered conspecific.
- Rodriguez had P. exsul. Like P. bensoni this was a grey/blue species, though green individuals also existed. Most likely it was closest to P. bensoni.
- The Seychelles had P. wardi, which appears closest to mainland P. eupatria (and has at times been considered a subspecies of it).

To make things even more interesting, the more extreme and now extinct Mascarene parrots (Mascarinus, Necropsittacus and Lophopsittacus) are thought to be descended from an older invasion of Psittacula, or a closely related species. This scenario reminds me of the Hawaiian moa nalo and their mallard-like ancestors.

Further, another parrot genus, Agapornis, has its apparently most basal genus in Madagascar (A. cana). All other species live in mainland Africa. Given that Agapornis seems closest to Asian Loriculus and Bolbopsittacus, an Indian Ocean-invasion of Madagascar might not be entirely out of the realm of possibilities.

It's Abdul the bulbul emir.

By Fortescue Bullrout (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

Re: comment 8, I always thought it was a shame that Lophopsittacus got absorbed into Psittacula (this is Julian Hume's PhD work, published 2007), but then... it seems not to have been as weird as Hachisuka (and others) made it. I have a copy of Hachisuka, incidentally: have been meaning to write about his ideas for ages. And about those Mascarene parrots specifically.

Hypsipetes madascariensis

By Marco Tedesco (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

Hypsipetes madagascariensis, from Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles.
Builds up nests that are so thin that the eggs can be seen from the ground.
Or is it the white-headed morph of Hypsipetes leucocephalus?

By Marco Tedesco (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

Thanks for the memories Fortescue!

I try to ignore passerines in general, except when birding. Sure, some of them have pretty feathers and nice songs, but they're hardly in a league with real birds, like woodpeckers, herons, ducks, or hummingbirds. I except corvids, which are cool.

So this does indeed seem to be a Himalayan black bulbul, Hypsipetes leucocephalus, nominate subspecies. How people got from there to Madagascar is a mystery, since that species has a black head. I see that Del Hoyo et al. list 10 subspecies, which is a lot, and express doubt whether they should all be considered one species. And since they say the white-headed ones are generally migratory, the black-headed ones generally sedentary, and that they usually form separate flocks when found together, I'm betting on at least two.

And I found an interesting paper on Hypsipetes colonization of islands:

Warren et al. 2005. Tracking island colonization history and phenotypic shifts in Indian Ocean bulbuls (Hypsipetes: Pycnonotidae). Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 85:271-287.

OK, so one of the Del Hoyo et al. subspecies of H. leucocephalus, H. l. psaroides, is sometimes considered a subspecies of H. madagascariensis. But it doesn't look as if that's true, though Warren et al. don't sample H. leucocephalus. There are a number of bulbul phylogenetic papers out there that I really should check, but since they're just more passerines I won't.

Free download here.

By John Harshman (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

I wonder, do you happen to have a digital copy of that Hume paper, Darren? It seems interesting! But is it definite that Lophopsittacus should be in Psittacula? I don't know the conclusions of that paper of course, but if L./P. mauritianus turns out sister to the Psittacula clade, might a separate genus not be justified?
Also, could you be more detailed about how weird (or not) Lophopsittacus truly was?

Himalayan black bulbul (Hypsipethes leucocephalus), nominate (SE Chinese) subsp.

Speaking of Madagascar-Asian connections, I think the presence of terrestrial leeches is the most interesting one.
It is also kinda funny that ethnography follows this biogeographical pattern.

The white-headed form of the Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus. H. madagascariensis is much darker and has yellow bill.

By Tommy Tyrberg (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

"The white-headed form of the Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus. H. madagascariensis is much darker and has yellow bill."

So that's a Madagascar Bulbul ?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chi-liu/113671131/sizes/o/in/photostream/
And that's a white headed black bulbul?: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hypsipetes_leucocephalus_-Prague…

I don't see the differences, but maybe the "madagascar bulbul" isn't really a H. madagascariensis and it's simply mis-labelled.

By Marco Tedesco (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

Black bulbul (Hypsipetes leucocephalus)

This is very simple, our little feathered friend is quite clearly an extant passerine neornith avian maniraptoran coelurosuarian theropodian dinosaurian archosuarian diapsid reptile.

What, you want me to more specific than that? Eh, I'll try, but don't say I never did you any favors buddy!

It's a white-headed bulbul (Hypsipetes leucocephalus). Found in Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand; habitat moist, tropical (or subtropical) forests. Sometimes placed in its own genus (or 'genus'-level clade if you prefer), Cerasophila.

I win.

By Michael O. Erickson (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

Michael, I'm afraid you have conflated two different species. The white-headed bulbul is Hypsipetes (or sometimes Cerasophila) thompsoni, and it looks rather different from the Himalayan black bulbul H. leucocephalus, the pictured bird. And your factoids are for H. thompsoni too. Don't ask me why black = leucocephalus and white-headed = thompsoni. Common names don't always make sense; Latin ones either, for that matter.

By John Harshman (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

Thanks for pointing out my eror John - I did confuse the black and white-headed bulbuls. Ah well, I guess I don't win my smug sense of self satisfaction.

For some reason I've always found passerines confusing - I think it's because there are just so many species that are so similar to each other!

By Michael O. Erickson (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

"error"

By Michael O. Erickson (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

If hooded crow is now a separate species (and I wish I'd had time to read the paper) would something similar be being suggested for this bird. In north Vietnam you can see flocks of these rather lovely Chinese birds in the winter with a few of the local black headed subspecies mixing in. But in the breeding season they're apart again.

By farandfew (not verified) on 28 Jan 2011 #permalink

It is clearly a rare subspecies of the Oozelum Bird, as first captured on film in that magnificent natural history film "Carry on up the Jungle".

The Oozelum is sadly critically endangered, due to its alarming habit, under stress, of flying around in ever decreasing circles until it vanishes up its own backside.

A check on ISIS shows a few zoos hold H.leucocephalus, mostly in Europe. Jersey has managed to breed them. I beleiev they are a model species as they work out husbandry requirements for some of the endemic forms, especially the Mauritius H.olivaceous, which is down to around 300 pairs.

This is very simple, our little feathered friend is quite clearly an extant passerine neornith avian maniraptoran coelurosuarian theropodian dinosaurian archosuarian diapsid reptile.

Wrong, it's an oscine passerine neornith avian maniraptoran coelurosaurian theropod saurischian dinosaurian archosaurian diapsid reptile.

By Tommy Tyrberg (not verified) on 29 Jan 2011 #permalink

Wrong, it's an oscine passerine neornith avian maniraptoran coelurosaurian theropod saurischian dinosaurian archosaurian diapsid reptile.

Touche!

By Michael O. Erickson (not verified) on 29 Jan 2011 #permalink

(I wonder if this will work?)

Animalia
 ââEcdysozoa
 âââDeuterostomia
    ââEchinodermata 
    âââVertebrata
       âââOsteichthyes
          ââActinopterygii
          âââSarcopterygii
             âââTetrapoda
                ââAmphibia
                âââAmniota
                   ââMammalia
                   âââSauropsida (Reptilia)
                      ââAnapsida
                      âââDiapsida
                         âââArchosauria
                            ââCrocodylomorpha
                            âââDinosauria
                               ââOrnithischia 
                               âââSaurischia
                                  ââSauropodomorpha 
                                  âââTheropoda
                                     ââCeratosauria
                                     âââCoelurosauria
                                        ââTyrannosauroidea
                                        âââManiraptoriformes
                                           ââOrnithomimosauria
                                           âââManiraptora
                                              ââOviraptorosauria
                                              âââEumaniraptora
                                                 ââDeinonychosauria
                                                 ââAves
                                                   ââNeornithes
                                                     ââPasseriformes
                                                       ââPasseri (Oscines)

(Well, it doesn't look too hideous in preview. Nothing ventured, nothing gained)

(using nbsp + ââ for fun and phylogeny...)

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 29 Jan 2011 #permalink

Owlmirror has won the thread.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 30 Jan 2011 #permalink

Owlmirror@29- I know I'm hopelessly out of date and amateur, but what happened to Tetanurae? Does that clade no longer exist?

Moro@30- lulz.

By CS Shelton (not verified) on 30 Jan 2011 #permalink

what happened to Tetanurae? Does that clade no longer exist?

Unless I've missed some totally awesome new paper with a totally awesome new cladistic analysis, Tetanurae does still exist. Perhaps the total awesomeness that is Owlmirror's Grand Phylogeny just has something against stiff tails ;)

By Michael O. Erickson (not verified) on 30 Jan 2011 #permalink

It's an oscine passerine terrestroren neoavian neognath avian carinate ornithurine euornithine ornithothoracine pygostylian avialian eumaniraptoran paravian metornithine maniraptoran maniraptoriform tyrannoraptoran coelurosaurian avetheropod tetanurine averostran neotheropod theropod saurischian dinosaur dinosauriform dinosauromorph ornithodiran avemetatarsalian archosaurian archosauriform archosauromorph saurian neodiapsid eosuchian diapsid romeriid eureptile reptile reptilomorph tetrapod osteolepiform tetrapodamorph stegocephalian choanate sauropterygian osteichthyan eugnathostome gnathostome vertebrate craniate euchordate chordate, and that's just in Chordata.

And I'm mssing some of the nodes in Aves.

*grumble* Everyone's a critic.

Feel free to add as many clades, subclades, superclades, infraclades, and bracketing clades as you might wish. Go nuts. Fulfil your hearts' desires. Follow your bliss phylogenetic punctiliousness.

I will probably expand the tree for the next version (no complaints about missing Avialae, Pygostylia, or Ornithurae?), but I will leave it alone for now.

Tetanurae.

Bah.

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 30 Jan 2011 #permalink

Say!

That Thomas R. Holtz sure seems to know his phylogenetics!

I bet he could do a much better job that I could.

*big grin*

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 30 Jan 2011 #permalink

You forgot Neognathae, Neoaves, a few groups that don't have names yet,... Passerida, Sylvioidea, and a few more that don't have names.

By John Harshman (not verified) on 30 Jan 2011 #permalink

I'm not sure about Tom's new phylogenetic position for the Sauropterygia. I know they're important and we're still debating realtionships, but even so...

By Mark Evans (not verified) on 30 Jan 2011 #permalink

The distribution of Hypsipetes bulbuls is somewhat similar to the distribution of Pteropus fruit bats; these, too, are absent from the African mainland but found in Madagascar + the Mascarene Islands and in tropical Asia

Another "clade" with a similar distribution (excepting the Mascarenes) would be the Malagasy language and its closest relatives.

I'm not sure about Tom's new phylogenetic position for the Sauropterygia. I know they're important and we're still debating realtionships, but even so...

Good catch! He means Sarcopterygii.

And he omitted Sauropsida and misspelled Tetrapodomorpha. Boo.

Another "clade" with a similar distribution (excepting the Mascarenes) would be the Malagasy language and its closest relatives.

Already alluded to in comment 16. :-)

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 31 Jan 2011 #permalink

Tom includes a problematic group (at least for me): Terrestrornithes Livezey & Zusi 2007. Unfortunately, that name appears not to have a phylogenetic definition, at least that I can find. It's defined entirely by its place in Livezey & Zusi's classification, i.e. by listing its included taxa. And since the precise clade they define by listing included taxa appears not to exist (or so us molecular types would claim), it isn't clear whether that name can be applied to a clade that does appear to exist. Should we pick a real clade of maximum similarity in content? And if so, how is that to be judged? I might want, for etymological reasons if nothing else, to choose the group I called "Land Birds" on ToLWeb. But would that be a valid choice? I like the name just fine. But should it be considered available?

By John Harshman (not verified) on 31 Jan 2011 #permalink

Anomalogonatae is another group that doesn't exist as originally described. It's hard to figure out whether it's worth trying to attach it to a real node/branch, rather than make up a new name. Got any general guidelines here? How, for example, did whoever decide that Carnosauria and Coelurosauria needed salvaging, and figure out what they should be?

Coronaves could be a real group, or at least close enough that it wouldn't be weird to keep the name. We need to find it in more than one intron first, though.

By John Harshman (not verified) on 31 Jan 2011 #permalink

It's funny you raise that point, John - I'm finishing the follow-up article to the one here (let's just say that it's bulbul-themed), and I note a persistent uncertainty as goes clade names that have never been explicitly defined (Passeroidea, Muscicapoidea, Sylvioidea... I'm looking at you). On Carnosauria and Coelurosauria, Gauthier (1986) co-opted these 'traditional' names and applied them (with phylogenetic definitions) to clades that seemed (in his view) to best correspond to those groups. Initially there was (so I understand) a bit of disatisfaction, since Coelurosauria of Gauthier does not correspond properly to Coelurosauria of Huene, 1914 (its author). Tom has written whole papers on this, but I felt compelled to respond because of the passerine-relevance...

Darren, first, don't ever blame me for anything having to do with passerines. But second, we have a pretty good idea what those names mean even without formal definitions. There may be arguments about the inclusion of some species, but I think almost everyone would agree that the groups cluster around their type genera, and include everything extant closer to the type genus of one than to any another. Some (like me) would also consider adding Certhioidea. And there may be passeridans that don't fit into any of those groups. But nothing like Anomalogonatae or Terrestrornithes. Why, I think the topology is now settled enough that we could actually do phylogenetic definitions, though I would do it the way I just did above, by defining a branch-based group and then referring to the crown group of that. I'm not certain that nobody has already done it.

Returning to my question, is there any principle that might help decide whether to redefine a group name or just abandon it, if its original usage were found invalid? I can think of one, at least. We don't want to abandon widely used names if we can avoid it (which wouldn't really save Anomalogonatae, would it?). Then again, some might argue that redefining widely used names would cause confusion (Reptilia), and it would be better to come up with new ones. So I'm left without a principle after all.

By John Harshman (not verified) on 31 Jan 2011 #permalink

I have occasionally been accused of being without principles, but I'm not sure that's what they meant.

By John Harshman (not verified) on 31 Jan 2011 #permalink

Excellent work, gentlemen. I am schooled, as usual.

Back to the original question, what do you suppose Darren meant by "something about the animal's behaviour, ecology and/or phylogenetic position (believe me, there is plenty to say)" ?

Windy- Interesting point. One could wonder if the humans and birds moved together or if both species were led to a similar range by similar influences (a chain of climates becoming more promising or fruitful in succession over time, yadda yadda).

By CS Shelton (not verified) on 31 Jan 2011 #permalink

And my open-ended speculation I just realized assumes speciation of birds and human tongues would happen at a similar rate. Ha. It's a good thing I'm an art major.

By CS Shelton (not verified) on 31 Jan 2011 #permalink

I realised after I wrote comment 45 that Sibley & Ahlquist (1990) provided lists of the 'families' they wanted to include in those passerine clades so, yes, on reflection, we do have an idea of what Sylvioidea etc. are supposed to contain. I've also been using a Certhioidea, since it seems closer to either Muscicapoidea or Passeroidea than to 'remaining' Sylvioidea. You're soon to be bombarded with an over-long article on sylvioid phylogeny... once I get all the day-job stuff done, that is.

I used Reptilia sensu Modesto and Anderson, which is a branch-based group.

Ah yeah. That's indeed a deliberate junior synonym of Sauropsida. Boooooo!

On Carnosauria and Coelurosauria, Gauthier (1986) co-opted these 'traditional' names and applied them (with phylogenetic definitions) to clades that seemed (in his view) to best correspond to those groups. Initially there was (so I understand) a bit of disatisfaction, since Coelurosauria of Gauthier does not correspond properly to Coelurosauria of Huene, 1914 (its author).

Never mind Huene (1914) -- the contents of both clades are sufficiently dissimilar from traditional usage since 1914 that IMNSHO both names should have been thrown away. But it's clearly too late for that; the specialists have got used to the new meanings (...while the laity still believes Tyrannosaurus is a carnosaur... <sigh> ...which indeed it was in phylogenetic analyses till 1992, because there were so many size-related characters in those matrices).

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 01 Feb 2011 #permalink

Darren, I think it's sufficiently clear now that Certhioidea, if we want to use it, is sister to Muscicapoidea. The alternative, which some favor, is to enlarge Muscicapoidea.

I await your sylvioid article. They're definitely the messiest of the passeridan superfamilies.

By John Harshman (not verified) on 01 Feb 2011 #permalink