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An Avian Big Bang

What do T. Rex and a kestrel have in common?
© Johnx1 - FreakingNews.com View Large

Many scientists believe that the demise of the dinosaurs began when an asteroid struck the earth 66 million years ago. Some dinosaurs survived, and among them were the early ancestors of birds. Recently an international research team sequenced the genomes of 45 birds of diverse lineages. The results revealed a surprising discovery: the common ancestor of today’s birds — among them warblers, parrots, woodpeckers, falcons, and owls — was a top-of-the-food-chain carnivore!

This "bird," however, is a flight of fancy, courtesy of FreakingNews.com.

BirdNote listeners are taking a once in a lifetime journey to the Galápagos, and you can join us in July 2018! Trip details and more at Birdnote.org.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

An Avian Big Bang 

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Wind Noise and music rise]


Many scientists believe that the demise of the dinosaurs began when an asteroid struck the earth 66 million years ago, near what is now the Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. 

In the nuclear winter-like conditions that followed, some dinosaurs survived, and among them were the early ancestors of birds. These gave rise to what's been called the Big Bang of bird evolution. Birds underwent an extraordinary diversification, over five to 10 million years. 

Nearly 95% of the 10,000-plus bird species now flying, swimming, and walking on earth came out of this evolutionary moment. [American Robin song, ML 94383, 0.10-.14]

Recently a huge international research team sequenced the full genomes of 45 birds of diverse lineages. The group used the unprecedented wealth of DNA data to rewrite avian genealogy. Their conclusions were published in December 2014. 

One other finding from this prodigious data-crunching: the common ancestor of today’s birds – among them warblers, parrots, woodpeckers, falcons, and owls – was an “apex predator.” 

A top-of-the-food-chain carnivore. [Northern Cardinal song ML 176241] 

So even a seed-eating cardinal has something like T. Rex in its family tree. [Northern Cardinal song ML 176241]

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. American Robin song [94383] recorded by W L Hershberger; Northern Cardinal song [176241] recorded by G A Keller.

"Another New World" by Punch Brothers from the album Ahoy, 2012 Nonesuch Records
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org    March 2018   Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#             aviangenome-01-2015-03-02 aviangenome-01

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