Kiwi does not fall in the Australia
Washington (AFP) – The Kiwi, national bird of New Zealand to the size of a hen unable to fly, does not fall in the Australian emu, unlike the previously advanced theory, but the bird related with elephant Madagascar (a giant extinct). Thursday reveals research.
This study, based on DNA analysis conducted by researchers at Adelaide University in Australia, also shows that these birds were able to fly in the distant past.
They have thus solved the mystery of the evolution of these large flightless birds called ratites such as emu, ostrich and cassowary, and present on all the continents of the southern hemisphere.
The elephant bird of Madagascar, which measured two to three meters tall and weighed 275 pounds, and the giant moa, both off and lived in New Zealand, also belonged to this group and could not fly.
Scientists have long thought that these different species of ratites had been unable to fly and they found themselves isolated by the separation of continents there are more than 130 million years.
The geographical environment of ancient DNA extracted from the bones of two birds, elephants located at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa analysis has shown the genetic relationship with kiwi, despite striking differences in terms and morphology, specify the work published in the journal Science.
“This result could not be more unexpected,” notes Kieren Mitchell, a researcher at the center for the study of ancient DNA from Adelaide University ( ACAD ), author of this discovery.
“New Zealand and Madagascar were connected physically there is only so long by Antarctica and Australia, so that the ratites were scattered around the world flying,” he says.
These results correct the conclusions made in the 90s by the Director of ACAD Alan Cooper, who showed that the closest living cousins were kiwis emus and cassowaries Australian.
” It’s good to restore scientific truth while New Zealanders were shocked to learn that the national bird appeared to be an Australian immigrant,” he told Professor Cooper.
The researchers also determined when the different species of ratites are separated.
“The ancestors of ratites could fly dispersed immediately after the extinction of the dinosaurs are 65 million years before mammals greatly increases their size and become the dominant group on the planet,” says Professor Cooper.
“The ratites appear to have taken advantage of this narrow window to become large herbivores but once mammals have also become very large, there are about 50 million years, no other bird could not see its size grow except on islands without mammal as the Dodo, extinct in Mauritius and in eastern Madagascar, “he continues.
The researchers said they had recently discovered fossil ancestors kiwi showing that they were flying when they arrived in New Zealand.
Source : AFP