A phylogenomic study of birds reveals their evolutionary history

Shannon J. Hackett, Rebecca T. Kimball, Sushma Reddy, Rauri C.K. Bowie, Edward L. Braun, Michael J. Braun, Jena L. Chojnowski, W. Andrew Cox, Kin Lan Han, John Harshman, Christopher J. Huddleston, Ben D. Marks, Kathleen J. Miglia, William S. Moore, Frederick H. Sheldon, David W. Steadman, Christopher C. Witt, Tamaki Yuri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1492 Scopus citations


Deep avian evolutionary relationships have been difficult to resolve as a result of a putative explosive radiation. Our study examined ∼32 kilobases of aligned nuclear DNA sequences from 19 independent loci for 169 species, representing all major extant groups, and recovered a robust phylogeny from a genome-wide signal supported by multiple analytical methods. We documented well-supported, previously unrecognized interordinal relationships (such as a sister relationship between passerines and parrots) and corroborated previously contentious groupings (such as flamingos and grebes). Our conclusions challenge current classifications and alter our understanding of trait evolution; for example, some diurnal birds evolved from nocturnal ancestors. Our results provide a valuable resource for phylogenetic and comparative studies in birds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1763-1768
Number of pages6
Issue number5884
StatePublished - Jun 27 2008
Externally publishedYes


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