Changing continental arrangements and the origin of Australia’s non-passeriform continental avifauna

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Classically the origin of Australia’s avifauna has been sought in south-eastern Asia with the Malay Archipelago serving as the only link between two major biogeographical realms. During the past two decades however, developments in the geological sciences have suggested strongly that the Australian continent has not always been where it is today with respect to other land masses. In fact, as little as fifty million years ago it was close to, if not directly connected with, Antarctica, which in turn probably was joined to South America by an archipelago. Contemporaneously, milder climatic regimes dominated Antarctica, supporting a diverse flora that included forests of podocarps, other conifers and Nothofagus. Certainly this possible austral dispersal route, as well as the Indonesian archipelago, needs to be kept in mind in future considerations of the Australian avifauna’s origin, specially for its distinctive groups such as emus, cassowaries, megapodes, pigeons and parrots among others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-112
Number of pages16
JournalEmu: Austral Ornithology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1975
Externally publishedYes

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