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Ancient DNA reveals elephant birds and kiwi are sister taxa and clarifies ratite bird evolution

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Science  23 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6186, pp. 898-900
DOI: 10.1126/science.1251981

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  1. Fig. 1 Phylogenetic position of the elephant birds from mitochondrial sequence data.

    Bayesian posterior probabilities and maximum likelihood bootstrap are presented in black below each branch; asterisks denote branches that received maximum possible support (bootstrap = 100%, Bayesian posterior probability = 1.0). Divergence dates [blue numbers above branches; blue bars represent 95% highest posterior density (HPD) intervals] were inferred with six well-supported node age constraints (table S5). Blue arrows mark the minimum date for the evolution of flightlessness in lineages for which fossil evidence is available (21, 22). The scale is given in millions of years before the present. Silhouettes indicate the relative size of representative taxa. Species diversity for each major clade is presented in parentheses, with extinct groups shown in red. The dagger symbol (†) indicates that the number of elephant bird species is uncertain.

  2. Fig. 2 Sensitivity of palaeognath age estimation to taxon sampling and genetic loci used.

    Mean and 95% HPD intervals are displayed for the age (basal divergence) of crown palaeognaths, as inferred under several data set permutations. The y axis represents time before the present in millions of years, whereas age estimates for individual data sets are arrayed on the x axis for both mitochondrial (circles) and nuclear loci (triangles). Results are presented for the following taxon sets: A, a full taxon set including ratites, tinamous, neognaths, and crocodilians; B, ratites, tinamous, and neognaths only; C, ratites, neognaths, and crocodilians only; and D, ratites and neognaths only. Taxon sets A and C are each calibrated with six fossil node constraints, whereas taxon sets B and D are calibrated with a subset of four relevant constraints (table S5). Taxon sets are represented visually with silhouettes of an ostrich (ratites), a flying tinamou (tinamous), a duck (neognaths), and an alligator (crocodilians). Analyses excluding the rate-anomalous tinamous (taxon sets C and D) retrieve a young age near the KPg boundary.

  3. Fig. 3 Conflict between inferred palaeognath phylogeny and the topology predicted by continental vicariance.

    (A) Relative position of continents during the Late Cretaceous and Tertiary. Continental landmasses are colored according to order of severance from the remaining Gondwanan landmass: Africa and Madagascar first (dark gray; 100 to 130 Ma), followed by New Zealand (red; 60 to 80 Ma), then finally Australia, Antarctica, and South America (green; 30 to 50 Ma). Palaeognath-bearing fossil localities from the late Palaeocene and Eocene (21, 22) are represented by circles (flighted taxa) and triangles (flightless taxa). (B) Predicted phylogeny of ratites under a model of speciation governed solely by continental vicariance. (C) Palaeognath phylogeny as inferred in the present study (see Fig. 1).