All Modern Birds Evolved From The Same Common Ancestor

Asteroid Wiped Out Dinosaurs

An artist’s rendering of a bird fleeing from a burning forest after the asteroid strike that wiped out non avian dinosaurs. Credit: Phillip M. Krzeminski

A new study says all modern birds evolved from the same ground-dwelling, common ancestor, after an asteroid slammed into Earth millions of years ago and devastated the planet’s forests.

“Everyone knows an asteroid the size of Manhattan caused a mass extinction 66 million years ago. The composition and distribution of life on Earth today cannot be understood except in light of this cataclysm,” said Yale professor of geology and geophysics Jacques Gauthier, co-author of a study published May 24 in Current Biology. Gauthier is curator of vertebrate paleontology and vertebrate zoology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

“Although all the giant dinosaurs disappeared, a few small flying dinosaurs — namely, birds — survived,” Gauthier said. “We propose that widespread destruction of forests following the asteroid impact favored ground-dwelling birds over tree-dwelling birds.”

An international team of researchers from the U.S., England, and Sweden pieced together evidence from the plant fossil record and ecology of ancient and modern birds, in order to conduct the study. The lead author is Daniel Field, of the Milner Center for Evolution at the University of Bath.

Gauthier said the study’s hypothesis explains the disappearance of the common tree-dwelling birds of the Cretaceous period. “It also explains the fact that although many birds live in trees today, their earliest relatives emerging from the wake of the asteroid impact were long-legged ground dwellers,” he said.

Additional co-authors of the study are Antoine Bercovici of the Smithsonian Institution, Jacob Berv of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Regan Dunn of the Field Museum of Natural History, Tyler Lyson of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, David Fastovsky of the University of Rhode Island, and Vivi Vajda of the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

Reference: “Early Evolution of Modern Birds Structured by Global Forest Collapse at the End-Cretaceous Mass Extinction” by Daniel J. Field, Antoine Bercovici, Jacob S. Berv, Regan Dunn, David E. Fastovsky, Tyler R. Lyson, Vivi Vajda and Jacques A. Gauthier, 24 May 2018, Current Biology.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.062

6 Comments on "All Modern Birds Evolved From The Same Common Ancestor"

  1. I should have known, ancient earth 66 million years ago + an asteroid the size of Manhattan Island striking earth = birds. It wasn’t a supernatural creator God afterall!

    • Of course an all powerful wizard in the sky who just magicked everything into existence is a much more believable explanation.

  2. neal ekengren | May 28, 2018 at 6:07 am | Reply

    Blanket prognostications like these are NOT science……………

    “Everyone knows an asteroid the size of Manhattan caused a mass extinction 66 million years ago”

    • yeah your right in its self that statement is not science, but you know what is science. all the scientific research and papers that went into working out that’s probably how the dinosaurs died out

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