Breakthrough in Bird Research

Breakthrough in bird research

Significant breakthroughs have been made in genomic research on terrestrial vertebrates led by Chinese scientists who have joined hands with their American counterparts to unveil the mystery of the origin of birds.

“Using new approaches to mine genomic information among 124 species covering most modern-bird diversity, we found that the main lineages of birds initially divided into two groups: one mostly land-based and the other containing water-associated species,” says Wu Shaoyuan, professor from Jiangsu Normal University in Xuzhou, China, who led the research team behind the findings.

The team was made of prominent researchers including Zhou Zhonghe from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Scott Edwards from Harvard University, and Liu Liang from the University of Georgia.

The research team has demonstrated that modern birds date back further than previously assumed, much earlier than the dinosaurian extinction event, which seems to have had a limited impact on birds’ evolution.

“It has thus challenged our traditional understanding that the origin of modern birds can actually be traced back to the dinosaur era,” Wu says.

The finding was recently published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer reviewed journal of the National Academy of Sciences.



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