Home > DNA in the News > DNA Studies and the Evolution of Birds

DNA Studies and the Evolution of Birds

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 22 May 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Dna Evolution Birds Avian Research Study

Although many of us are fascinated with the concept of human DNA, have you ever considered how DNA in animals can provide valuable clues about evolution? In the case of birds, scientists recently conducted a study of birds using modernised gene analysis methods, which provided some very interesting clues about evolutionary relationships.

The results were quite surprising, resulting in a number of changes to the older avian evolutionary tree. Ultimately, the entire evolutionary tree has been modified to a large extent, which is considered a positive step for our knowledge of avian evolution.

Learning About Avian Evolution

In fact, the study results mean that many biologists will now be reconsidering a great deal of what they previously believed about avian evolution. While much of evolution still remains a mystery – given that modern birds seemingly came into existence between sixty-five and one hundred million years ago – this new study has brought forth some very unexpected relationships to help fill in the gaps of avian evolution.

Previous Information on Avian Evolution

Prior to this recent study, the small number of gene studies among the different orders had been mostly concerned with only one or two genes. Not only that, but results had been quite varied with no clear conclusions drawn. In this way, recent research has been somewhat of a leap in terms of our knowledge about avian evolution.

To remedy this knowledge gap, researchers sequenced nineteen regions of the genome in 169 different species of birds. In total, this amounted to thousands of DNA 'letters' for each species. Researchers then utilised these sequences to put together an avian evolutionary tree.

Surprising Results of the Avian Study

The new tree, however, was not exactly what most biologists might have expected. It contained a number of surprising results. In one instance, falcons were found to be more closely related to songbirds than they are to hawks or eagles. If you think about the little hummingbirds you see, they are actually simply a more specialised type of nighthawk. Given that the nighthawk has such a bulky shape, one would not have expected these two kinds of birds to be cousins.

New Directions for Avian Evolution

Overall, this new evolutionary tree has meant that approximately one third of the orders in previous phylogenies of birds have been reworked. All of this new research now replaces much of the older, outdated information we had on avian evolution. The study shows how DNA can provide important linkages in the evolutionary tree and can also provide a more accurate, logical picture of how birds evolved over time.

Biologists are quite excited about the findings, primarily because it fills in a number of gaps and also clarifies previously believed relationships between different species. While many of the findings were surprising ones, the study is widely supported and considered to be a more accurate and clear representation of avian evolution.

DNA and Evolution Become Clearer

With sorting out avian evolution remaining a key goal of biologists, this new study has now provided some important and interesting clues that help to fill in those intermediate evolutionary gaps. Hopefully, future DNA research can provide more information into avian evolution as well as links to various species.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
hfgewvfd hbcdhbchd hdvbhvbhd udfbheir dvudgv
nc dh - 22-May-19 @ 9:11 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Laverne
    Re: Using DNA and for Immigration Purposes
    Hi..i am a USC. I petition for my stepchildren who are in Jamaica and the petition has been approved. I have since…
    9 August 2019
  • Mhay
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    I need some answer...my son died 24 years ago, August 6,1995, he was born July 29,1995, I just have doubts in my mind, as Fabella Hospital in…
    30 July 2019
  • mich
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    I would like to know if an old baseball cap would have my father's dna. My dad passed away in 2010.
    30 July 2019
  • Gurl
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My grandmother passed and I want to do a DNA-genealogical test. I did the 23 and me test and it was revealed I am 47percent Native American.…
    26 July 2019
  • fredab
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    hi , my son passed away ,17 years ago in2001 and he had a baby on the way ,she was born in june 2002 , she is 17 years old now ,but we had…
    27 June 2019
  • Richie
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My sister was adopted by my Aunty at a very young age. We met for the first time when I was 35 years old and she was 45 years. We were in…
    25 June 2019
  • spearmannbails
    Re: DNA and Criminology
    no. deoxyribonucleic acid is to be for biology, and biology only.
    24 June 2019
  • Casey
    Re: DNA Testing for Pets
    Hi, I was wondering if there was any chance you could do a DNA test on my dogs ashes, for a long time we suspected he wasnt full Siberian…
    18 June 2019
  • Vee
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    Can I text my 4 month old baby ashes, there is pieces of her bone,
    12 June 2019
  • Cami
    Re: DNA Viruses
    Are you able to give me an explanation of how prescribed medicines may cause DNA mutations? As far as I know they can bind the DNA strands…
    11 June 2019