Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/90880
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Type: Journal article
Title: Ancient DNA reveals elephant birds and kiwi are sister taxa and clarifies ratite bird evolution
Author: Mitchell, K.
Llamas, B.
Soubrier, J.
Rawlence, N.
Worthy, T.
Wood, J.
Lee, M.
Cooper, A.
Citation: Science, 2014; 344(6186):898-900
Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science
Issue Date: 2014
ISSN: 0036-8075
1095-9203
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Kieren J. Mitchell, Bastien Llamas, Julien Soubrier, Nicolas J. Rawlence, Trevor H. Worthy, Jamie Wood, Michael S. Y. Lee, Alan Cooper
Abstract: The evolution of the ratite birds has been widely attributed to vicariant speciation, driven by the Cretaceous breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana. The early isolation of Africa and Madagascar implies that the ostrich and extinct Madagascan elephant birds (Aepyornithidae) should be the oldest ratite lineages. We sequenced the mitochondrial genomes of two elephant birds and performed phylogenetic analyses, which revealed that these birds are the closest relatives of the New Zealand kiwi and are distant from the basal ratite lineage of ostriches. This unexpected result strongly contradicts continental vicariance and instead supports flighted dispersal in all major ratite lineages. We suggest that convergence toward gigantism and flightlessness was facilitated by early Tertiary expansion into the diurnal herbivory niche after the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Keywords: Animals; Palaeognathae; Struthioniformes; DNA; Phylogeny; Base Sequence; Flight, Animal; Fossils; Molecular Sequence Data; New Zealand; Biological Evolution
Rights: Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science
RMID: 0030010236
DOI: 10.1126/science.1251981
Appears in Collections:Earth and Environmental Sciences publications

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