Study Rewrites Birds' Family Tree

DNA research reveals new information about bird relations
By Laurel Jorgensen,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2008 9:45 PM CDT
Study Rewrites Birds' Family Tree
A hummingbird perches next to a flower at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve near Monteverde, Costa Rica, Tuesday, May 22, 2007.    (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

A five-year study of bird DNA is turning the world of ornithology on its head. The study revealed such drastic new information about the evolution of birds that dozens will need new scientific names, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Notable finds: Falcons are not related to hawks or eagles; hummingbirds—colorful daytime creatures—evolved from the drab nocturnal nightjar; and parrots are more closely related to songbirds than thought.

The study “pretty much flies in the face, no pun intended, of the traditional thoughts of how birds are related,” says one of the lead authors at Chicago's Field Museum. She says the findings—which will require major revisions of biology books and birders’ field guides—are comparable to learning that your cousin is actually your brother. (More Field Museum stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.