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Biol Lett. 2006 Dec 22;2(4):543-7.

Diversification of Neoaves: integration of molecular sequence data and fossils.

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  • 1Department of Vertebrate Zoology and Molecular Systematics Laboratory, Swedish Museum of Natural History, PO Box 50007, 10405 Stockholm, Sweden. per.ericson@nrm.se

Abstract

Patterns of diversification and timing of evolution within Neoaves, which includes almost 95% of all bird species, are virtually unknown. On the other hand, molecular data consistently indicate a Cretaceous origin of many neoavian lineages and the fossil record seems to support an Early Tertiary diversification. Here, we present the first well-resolved molecular phylogeny for Neoaves, together with divergence time estimates calibrated with a large number of stratigraphically and phylogenetically well-documented fossils. Our study defines several well-supported clades within Neoaves. The calibration results suggest that Neoaves, after an initial split from Galloanseres in Mid-Cretaceous, diversified around or soon after the K/T boundary. Our results thus do not contradict palaeontological data and show that there is no solid molecular evidence for an extensive pre-Tertiary radiation of Neoaves.

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PMID:
17148284
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1834003
Free PMC Article

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