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Re: Flight of the Dodo (and solitaire)
At 10:54 AM -0600 3/8/02, Williams, Tim wrote:
While reading through the Feb 22 issue of _Science_ (the same issue that
mentions the dinosaur "listserv" in the _Syntarsus_/_Megapnosaurus_ fiasco)
I came across this article:
Shapiro et al. (2002). Flight of the Dodo. Nature 295: 1683.
It's actually Science, not Nature, as noted above
THey believe the dodo island-hopped because the ridge on which the
islands sit is considerably older than the islands themselves.
Rodrigues is thought to have reached the surface only about 1.5
million years ago, and the solitaire's ancestors must have flown
there, but 1.5 million years is enough time to lose flight.
The use of mitochondrial sequences in building phylogenies is close to home
for me, and I have a few queries on this paper that I'll spare the list by
not mentioning. However, the molecular clock data is interesting, since it
suggests a divergence time (25.6 Ma - Oligocene) between the dodo and
solitaire that is actually older than the estimated creation of the islands
of Mauritius and Rodrigues (6.8 - 7.8 Ma) based on geological data.
The total divergence time between the dodo/solitaire group and the
southeast Asian pigeons is about 42 million years. It would be
interesting to test other pigeon groups on that tree for divergence
times, and to look for any fossil evidence that might confirm it. --