New Tree Of Life For Modern Birds

The largest and most complete study of bird evolution has been launched after an international team of scientists revisited the timing of evolutionary changes.

Dr Jacqueline Nguyen and Professor Simon Ho at the Australia Museum gallery. Photo courtesy James Alcock

In a world first, the study led by scientists in Denmark, the USA and China joined Australian researchers to determine the family tree of modern birds and pinpointed the timing of their evolution to within a very small evolutionary window of only 5 million years..

Their findings, published in world-leading journal Nature, includes expertise from Australian academics including ARC DECRA Fellow Dr Jacqueline Nguyen, from Australian Museum and Flinders University, and Professor Simon Ho and Al-Aabid Chowdhury, from the University of Sydney.

The largest study ever undertaken of modern bird genomes, the scientists combined genomic data of more than 360 bird species with data from nearly 200 bird fossils to reconstruct the most well-supported Tree of Life for modern birds.

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