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(fwd) Re: ratite distribution

From: Gautam Majumdar <gautam@majumdar.demon.co.uk>
Newsgroups: sci.bio.paleontology
Subject: Re: ratite distribution
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2001 19:09:51 +0000
Organization: Sycamores
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alcaligenes@my-deja.com wrote
>Thanks for pointing me to the Cooper chapter.

New paper from Cooper in this week's Nature.

Cooper A, Lalueza-fox C, Anderson S, Rambaut A, Austin J, Ward R,
Complete mitochondrial genome sequences of two extinct moas clarify 
ratite evolution, Nature 2001; 409: 704-7


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 
To resolve the ratite phylogeny and provide biogeographical data to
examine these issues, we have here determined the first complete
mitochondrial genome sequences of any extinct taxa- two New Zealand
moa genera-along with a 1,000-base-pair sequence from an extinct
Madagascan elephant-bird. For comparative data, we also generated
12 kilobases of contiguous sequence from the kiwi, cassowary, emu and
two tinamou genera. This large dataset allows statistically precise 
of molecular divergence dates and these support a Late Cretaceous
vicariant speciation of ratite taxa, followed by the subsequent 
dispersal of
the kiwi to New Zealand. This first molecular view of the break-up of
Gondwana provides a new temporal framework for speciation events
within other Gondwanan biota and can be used to evaluate competing
biogeographical hypotheses.

Gautam Majumdar                 gautam@majumdar.demon.co.uk