From: Cornell University
Published September 22, 2017 05:45 PM

Asteroid that killed dinosaurs may have sped up bird evolution

Human activities could trigger an altered pattern of evolution similar to what occurred 66 million years ago, when a giant asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs, leaving birds as their only descendants. 

Cornell ecology and evolutionary biology doctoral student Jacob Berv and Daniel Field, an evolutionary paleobiologist at the University of Bath, England, came to this conclusion after studying the ancient genetic evolution of birds. The researchers say knowing more about the effects of mass extinction on early bird life may reveal patterns for what lies ahead in the Anthropocene – the age dominated by humans.

“To understand the role of mass extinctions in shaping patterns of biodiversity, we’re studying how modern birds arose and diversified following the asteroid impact that marks the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, also called the K-Pg event,” Berv said.

Continue reading at Cornell University

Image: Molecular clocks suggest birds are much older than we know from the fossil record, but the discrepancy may be due to an underestimate of the pace of evolution.

Image Credit: Jillian Ditner

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