New Family Tree Illuminates 'Big Bang' in Bird Evolution After Dinosaur Extinction
Comprehensive look at bird genes shows power of DNA to answer a staggering array of scientific questions.
A massive genetics project has produced the most comprehensive bird family tree ever, an embarrassment of scientific riches for studying everything from how birds evolved so quickly after dinosaurs disappeared to the ways in which birds and people learn.
The biggest takeaway from the eight studies published Thursday in the journal Science is the way genetic codes can be used to answer wide-ranging questions. Scientists are using birds' DNA, for instance, both for research on the brain and learning and to reconstruct what an ancient ancestor of birds and dinosaurs might have looked like.
Researchers mapped the complete set of DNA instructions, or genomes, of 45 bird species representing every group of living birds, as well as representatives of all three groups