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Near passerine or higher land-bird assemblage are terms of traditional, pre-cladistic taxonomy that have often been given to tree-dwelling birds or those most often believed to be related to the true passerines (order Passeriformes) due to ecological similarities; the group corresponds to some extent with the Anomalogonatae of Alfred Henry Garrod.
All near passerines are land birds. Whether all of these orders represent relatives of the Passeriformes is not well-supported by more recent molecular data; however the bulk of evidence supports the hypothesis that most do indeed form a clade that also includes the Passeriformes. In addition, it is now becoming increasingly clear that "near passerines" and "higher landbirds" are not synonymous, but that the former is more probably a subclade of the latter, and that the latter also includes groups like Falconiformes.
The near passerines traditionally comprise the following orders (with common names of some families in the orders):
- Pterocliformes: sandgrouse
- Columbiformes: pigeons
- Psittaciformes: parrots
- Cuculiformes: cuckoos
- Strigiformes: owls
- Caprimulgiformes: nightjars
- Apodiformes: swifts, hummingbirds
- Coliiformes: mousebirds
- Trogoniformes: trogons, quetzals
- Coraciiformes: kingfishers, hornbills
- Piciformes: woodpeckers, toucans
Of these, the relationship of the Strigiformes is uncertain, whereas the first three groups almost certainly do not belong here; sandgrouse (Pterocliformes) may not even be higher landbirds. The Cuculiformes, Piciformes (including toucans), Coraciiformes (including hornbills) and Trogoniformes seem to be very close to the Passeriformes on the other hand (Johansson & Ericson 2003), and one of these almost certainly is—among the living birds—the sister taxon of the Passeriformes.
- Garrod defined his Anomalogonatae as birds lacking the ambiens muscle, namely the coraciforms and passerines. The Birds of North and Middle America, Robert Ridgway, Herbert Friedmann, p. 297. http://books.google.com/books?id=tIkaAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA297&dq=anomalogonate&hl=en&ei=Sp1bTrj4FIbagAfAhsCVDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=anomalogonate&f=false
- Johansson, Ulf S. & Ericson, Per G. P. (2003): Molecular support for a sister group relationship between Pici and Galbulae (Piciformes sensu Wetmore 1960). J. Avian Biol. 34(2): 185–197. doi:10.1034/j.1600-048X.2003.03103.x PDF fulltext
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