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Tue, Dec 16

A flock of genomes tells the tale of bird evolution

A new genetic map of nearly all living birds has shaken the avian evolutionary tree, scattering some species to new perches and adding odd flourishes to their tales.

Parrots roost closer to songbirds, a tiny wren shares a murderous lineage with the eagle, and the pencil-legged flamingo nests near the deep-diving grebe, according to a series of studies published Thursday in the journal Science.

The four-year, multimillion-dollar effort to map all the DNA of 48 bird species provides an enormous database for research that affects human health. Chickens, finches and pigeons are commonly used in laboratories, offering insight into brain and fetal development, toxin risks and speech impediments.

Read more from The Los Angeles Times.