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Mayr, G. (2011) Cenozoic mystery birds – on the phylogenetic affinities of bony-toothed birds (Pelagornithidae). —Zoologica Scripta, 40, 448–467.

The extinct Cenozoic bony-toothed birds (Pelagornithidae) are characterized by the occurrence of unique spiky projections of the osseous jaws and are among the most distinctive neornithine taxa. Earlier authors considered these marine birds to be most closely related to ‘Pelecaniformes’ or Procellariiformes, but recent phylogenetic analyses resulted in a sister group relationship to Anseriformes. This latter hypothesis was, however, coupled with a non-monophyly of galloanserine or even neognathous birds, which is not supported by all other current analyses. The character evidence for anseriform affinities of pelagornithids is thus reassessed, and it is detailed that the alleged apomorphies cannot be upheld. Pelagornithids lack some key apomorphies of galloanserine birds, and analysis of 107 anatomical characters did not support anseriform affinities, but resulted in a sister group relationship between Pelagornithidae and Galloanseres. By retaining a monophyletic Galloanseres, this result is in better accordance with widely acknowledged hypotheses on the higher-level phylogeny of birds. The (Pelagornithidae + Galloanseres) clade received, however, only weak bootstrap support, and some characters, such as the presence of an open frontoparietal suture, may even support a position of Pelagornithidae outside crown-group Neognathae.