Thursday, April 14, 2016

Evolutionary Trends of Bird Shapes

Natalie Wright of the University of Montana has discovered a trend in bird evolution. The study took place on an island off of mainland. Wright's study focused on the birds that could fly and documenting their changes. She picked the birds that can fly since it seemed as though bird that could fly became flightless on the island. Therefore, and experiment was set up to observe birds that could fly. The study found that birds on the island evolved smaller flight muscles and longer legs on islands. In addition, she found that on islands where predators were less common the evolutionary trends was more prominent.
The study concludes that bird develop smaller muscles if predation in their surroundings drop. This differs from previous studies which focused more on body size. However, evolution seems to effect the wing size and legs size not overall body size.
I find this article to be very interesting since it shows new genetic traits being found on bird with flight and it is happening at a rate we are able to see. Usually evolution takes too long to to witness on the scale of mammals or birds. However it is interesting to see birds changing based on lack of predators in their area.

1 comment:

  1. Since flight has a large energy cost it makes sense that birds with no predators that do not need to fly to catch their food would develop smaller flight muscles and even lose this ability with time. Actually being able to measure this change is really interesting.