Start Dating branches on the tree of life using dna

Dating branches on the tree of life using dna

Taken together, these reports support the theory of a "big bang" for bird evolution, with many species emerging rapidly during the 10 to 15 million years that followed the dinosaurs' extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary.

"In the past, people have been using one, two — up to 10 or 20 genes — to try to infer [bird] species relationships over the last 100 million years or so," said Jarvis.

The research was led by Guojie Zhang from BGI in Shenzhen, China, and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark; Erich Jarvis from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; and Thomas Gilbert from the Natural History Museum of Denmark and Curtin University in Australia.

With the expertise of colleagues from around the world, they were able to sequence at least one genome from every major modern bird lineage.

There are only three major kinds of cellular organisms that form the Tree of Life: Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya (Figure 1).