Complete mitochondrial genome sequences of two extinct moas clarify ratite evolution

  title={Complete mitochondrial genome sequences of two extinct moas clarify ratite evolution},
  author={Alan Cooper and Carles Lalueza-Fox and Simon G. Anderson and Andrew Rambaut and Jeremy J. Austin and Ryk H Ward},
The origin of the ratites, large flightless birds from the Southern Hemisphere, along with their flighted sister taxa, the South American tinamous, is central to understanding the role of plate tectonics in the distributions of modern birds and mammals. Defining the dates of ratite divergences is also critical for determining the age of modern avian orders. To resolve the ratite phylogeny and provide biogeographical data to examine these issues, we have here determined the first complete… 
The evolutionary history of the extinct ratite moa and New Zealand Neogene paleogeography
This work synthesizes mitochondrial phylogenetic information from 263 subfossil moa specimens from across NZ with morphological, ecological, and new geological data to create the first comprehensive phylogeny, taxonomy, and evolutionary timeframe for all of the species of an extinct order.
Reconstructing the tempo and mode of evolution in an extinct clade of birds with ancient DNA: the giant moas of New Zealand.
A cycle of lineage-splitting occurred approximately 4-10 million years ago, when the landmass was fragmented by tectonic and mountain-building events and general cooling of the climate, resulting in the geographic isolation of lineages and ecological specialization.
Complete mitochondrial DNA genome sequences show that modern birds are not descended from transitional shorebirds
The mean estimate for the origin of modern birds at about 123 million years ago (Myr ago) is quite close to recent estimates using both nuclear and mitochondrial genes, and supports theories of continental break–up as a driving force in avian diversification.
Archaeobatrachian paraphyly and pangaean diversification of crown-group frogs.
To explore central controversies on the phylogeny of Anura, nearly 4000 base pairs of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA for the major frog lineages are analyzed and likelihood-based analyses are congruent with morphological evidence in supporting a paraphyletic arrangement of archaeobatrachian frogs.
Complete Mitochondrial Genome and Phylogeny of Pleistocene MammothMammuthus primigenius
It is demonstrated that well-preserved mitochondrial genome fragments, as long as ~1,600–1700 base pairs, can be retrieved from pre-Holocene remains of an extinct species, and the sequence of the complete mitochondrial genome is reported—the oldest mitochondrial genome sequence determined to date.
Multiple nuclear genes and retroposons support vicariance and dispersal of the palaeognaths, and an Early Cretaceous origin of modern birds
  • O. HaddrathA. Baker
  • Biology, Environmental Science
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2012
A species tree for the major palaeognath lineages is presented using 27 nuclear genes and 27 archaic retroposon insertions, showing that rheas is sister to the kiwis, emu and cassowaries, and ratite paraphyly because tinamous are sister to moas.
Tinamous and moa flock together: mitochondrial genome sequence analysis reveals independent losses of flight among ratites.
It is inferred that flight to have been lost among ratites multiple times in temporally close association with the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event, circumvents requirements for transient microcontinents and island chains to explain discordance between ratite phylogeny and patterns of continental breakup.
A mitogenomic timescale for birds detects variable phylogenetic rates of molecular evolution and refutes the standard molecular clock.
The first comprehensive analysis of mitogenomic data of 48 vertebrates, including 35 birds, is performed to derive a Bayesian timescale for avian evolution and to estimate rates of DNA evolution, finding no support for the hypothesis that the molecular clock in birds "ticks" according to a constant rate of substitution per unit of mass-specific metabolic energy rather than per unitOf time, as recently suggested.
Ancient DNA reveals elephant birds and kiwi are sister taxa and clarifies ratite bird evolution
It is suggested that convergence toward gigantism and flightlessness was facilitated by early Tertiary expansion into the diurnal herbivory niche after the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Dispersal‐vicariance analysis using cladograms derived from morphology and three independent genes indicated a Malagasy diversification of lime swallowtails in the middle Miocene, suggesting diversification processes on the island of Madagascar may have contributed to the origin of common butterflies that now occur throughout much of the Old World tropical and subtemperate regions.


Phylogeny and biogeography of ratite birds inferred from DNA sequences of the mitochondrial ribosomal genes.
A new hypothesis for the origin of ratites that combines elements of dispersal and vicariance is proposed that agrees with transferrin and DNA hybridization studies but not with sequence analyses of some protein-coding genes.
Independent origins of New Zealand moas and kiwis.
The phylogenetic analysis shows that the kiwis are more closely related to Australian and African ratities than to the moas, and New Zealand probably was colonized twice by ancestors of ratite birds.
Ostrich ancestors found in the Northern Hemisphere suggest new hypothesis of ratite origins
Newly studied fossils suggest that the ancestors of ostriches are instead among a group of North American and European birds, the ‘Lithornis-cohort’, that had the potential of flight and from which the kiwis may have arisen separately.
Cosmopolitanism among Gondwanan Late Cretaceous mammals
The occurrence of a highly specialized and distinctive group of extinct mammals, the Sudamericidae (Gondwanatheria), in the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar and India is reported, which is the first evidence of gondwanatheres outside South America and the first indication of cosmopolitanism among Late CRETaceous Gondwanan mammals.
Using Sequences of rbcL to Study Phylogeny and Biogeography of Nothofagus Species
It is tentatively concluded that intercontinental dispersal was possible in the early stages of the evolution of Nothofagus, and the ages of the common ancestors of species in subgenera are derived.
Mass Survival of Birds Across the Cretaceous- Tertiary Boundary: Molecular Evidence
Data for several other terrestrial vertebrate groups indicate a similar pattern of survival and, taken together, favor incremental changes during a Cretaceous diversification of birds and mammals rather than an explosive radiation in the Early Tertiary.
Estimating divergence dates from molecular sequences.
This work presents a maximum-likelihood approach to estimating divergence times that deals explicitly with the problem of rate variation, and presents tests of the accuracy of the method, which show it to be robust to the effects of some modes of rate variations.
Predatory dinosaur remains from madagascar: implications for the cretaceous biogeography of gondwana
One specimen includes a nearly complete and exquisitely preserved skull with thickened pneumatic nasals, a median frontal horn, and a dorsal projection on the parietals of Abelisauridae.