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Re: High rates of evolution preceded the origin of birds

From: Ben Creisler

The article is now in open access at:


Here's the press release from University of Bristol :


On Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 8:09 AM, Ben Creisler <bcreisler@gmail.com> wrote:
> From: Ben Creisler
> bcreisler@gmail.com
> A new online paper:
> Mark N. Puttick, Gavin H. Thomas and Michael J. Benton (2014)
> High rates of evolution preceded the origin of birds.
> Evolution (advance online article)
> DOI: 10.1111/evo.12363
> http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/evo.12363/abstract
> The origin of birds (Aves) is one of the great evolutionary
> transitions. Fossils show that many unique morphological features of
> modern birds, such as feathers, reduction in body size, and the
> semilunate carpal, long preceded the origin of clade Aves, but some
> may be unique to Aves, such as relative elongation of the forelimb. We
> study the evolution of body size and forelimb length across the
> phylogeny of coelurosaurian theropods and Mesozoic Aves. Using
> recently-developed phylogenetic comparative methods, we find an
> increase in rates of body size and body size-dependent forelimb
> evolution leading to small body size relative to forelimb length in
> Paraves, the wider clade comprising Aves and Deinonychosauria. The
> high evolutionary rates arose primarily from a reduction in body size,
> as there were no increased rates of forelimb evolution. In line with a
> recent study, we find evidence that Aves appear to have a unique
> relationship between body size and forelimb dimensions. Traits
> associated with Aves evolved before their origin, at high rates, and
> support the notion that numerous lineages of paravians were
> experimenting with different modes of flight through the Late Jurassic
> and Early Cretaceous.