Complete mitochondrial genome sequences of two extinct moas clarify ratite evolution

@article{Cooper2001CompleteMG,
  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},
  journal={Nature},
  year={2001},
  volume={409},
  pages={704-707}
}
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… 
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  • O. HaddrathA. Baker
  • Biology, Environmental Science
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2012
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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.
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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.
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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.
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