Phylogenetic tree using the first in the world that presents the evolutionary kinship between all known birds species, researchers have found that the rate of evolution of birds appears to be accelerating. This is not what scientists expected to find.
The authors of the study, including two specialists from Simon Fraser University in Canada, spent five years producing this phylogenetic tree (or evolutionary tree), using this DNA data, supercomputers and fossil data covering millions of years back up to the age of dinosaurs. Here on Earth located where and when the story occurred in each case significant diversification of birds.
The resulting profile shows how evolutionary path followed up to the present each of 9993 species of birds alive today.
Based on the results of previous studies, the researchers expected to see that the rate of speciation of birds decreased with the passage of time.
However, Arne Mooers and Jeff Joy, of that Canadian university and his colleagues at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, United States, of Sheffield in the UK, and Tasmania in Australia have discovered this rate of speciation is increasing.
“Perhaps the birds are special,” theorizes Mooers. “Maybe they are so good to move from one site to another that can escape local competition with their evolutionary relatives and start over elsewhere, producing rapid proliferation of new species at different times and places in the world.”
The study authors also found that the rate of speciation of birds not descend to their habitat away from Ecuador. Since three-fourths of all birds are near Ecuador, it was expected that there would be more common speciation.
One thing is the appearance of new species. Another is the disappearance. Unfortunately, the balance between the two lists is not rosy. Birds cannot escape the environmental disaster caused by the human being on the planet. Researchers estimate that the birds have been proliferating in recent times at a rate of about one new species every 700 years. However, they consider that the rate of extinction of birds in recent times caused by anthropogenic action is about 300 times greater.