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Mass Survival of Birds Across the Cretaceous- Tertiary Boundary: Molecular Evidence

Science  21 Feb 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5303, pp. 1109-1113
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5303.1109

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Abstract

The extent of terrestrial vertebrate extinctions at the end of the Cretaceous is poorly understood, and estimates have ranged from a mass extinction to limited extinctions of specific groups. Molecular and paleontological data demonstrate that modern bird orders started diverging in the Early Cretaceous; at least 22 avian lineages of modern birds cross the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. Data for several other terrestrial vertebrate groups indicate a similar pattern of survival and, taken together, favor incremental changes during a Cretaceous diversification of birds and mammals rather than an explosive radiation in the Early Tertiary.

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