Research NewsMolecular Evolution

Did Birds Sail Through the K-T Extinction With Flying Colors?

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Science  21 Feb 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5303, pp. 1068
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5303.1068

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By now, everyone knows of the giant asteroid that slaughtered the dinosaurs at the end of Cretaceous—but did the extinction really wipe out thousands of terrestrial animals? Not according to a new study of the genes in modern birds. The molecular study on page 1109 of this week's issue of Science suggests that many bird lineages (including those of penguins, parrots, and chickens) arose before the extinction and flew through it unscathed.