The bird family tree was completed, researchers say. The study was published on October 7 in Nature journal.
One of the most difficult to be identified evolutionary information is that regarding the complex network of relations between different species of birds.
Using 198 living species, the researchers launched genome-wide information which gave them the possibility of almost finishing the bird family tree.
The study was made by scientists from different universities such as Yale University and Florida State University. They made a correlation between the evolution of nowadays birds and 3 dinosaur lines of descent that lived during the great extinction that occurred 66 million years ago.
In their study, the researchers put an emphasis on the bird group entitled Neoaves. Neoaves group includes 90% of all existing birds, except for those lacking the possibility of flying, such as chickens and ducks.
The study revealed that water birds are closely related, thing which mean they appeared in aquatic areas after the disappearance of dinosaurs. This discovery rejects the previous idea according to which the water birds evolved from many individual lineages.
“It means that all of these aquatic birds may have evolved from a single common ancestor,” said Jacob Berv, professor at Cornell University.
The researchers could also discover other interesting facts, such as the fact that nocturnal species represent the ancestors of vision-dependent hummingbirds.
Other species which can be found in our gardens, such as the cardinal and the woodpecker, stem from predacious species, such as the hawk.
Rick Prum, the lead author of the study, believes that this new discoveries represent the end of what has been previously thought concerning the birds’ evolutionary theories. He also stated that the bird family tree would be completed in 5 or 10 years and would offer scientists the possibility of finding explanations for the different ways in which the birds live.
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