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Early Evolution of Modern Birds Structured by Global Forest Collapse at the End-Cretaceous Mass Extinction
Milner Centre for Evolution, Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK.
2Department of Paleobiology MRC-121, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20560-0121, USA.
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, 215 Tower Road, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
Integrated Research Center, Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605, USA.
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2018 (English)In: Current Biology, ISSN 0960-9822, E-ISSN 1879-0445, Vol. 28, p. 1825-1831Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The fossil record and recent molecular phylogenies support an extraordinary early-Cenozoic radiation of crown birds (Neornithes) after the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction [1–3 ]. However, questions remain regarding the mechanisms underlying the survival of the deepest lineages within crown birds across the K-Pg boundary, particularly since this global catastrophe eliminated even the closest stem-group relatives of Neornithes [4 ]. Here, ancestral state reconstructions of neornithine ecology reveal a strong bias toward taxa exhibiting predominantly non-arboreal lifestyles across the K-Pg, with multiple convergent transitions toward predominantly arboreal ecologies later in the Paleocene and Eocene. By contrast, ecomorphological inferences indicate predominantly arboreal lifestyles among enantiornithines, the most diverse and widespread Mesozoic avialans [5–7 ]. Global paleobotanical and palynological data show that the K-Pg Chicxulub impact triggered widespread destruction of forests [8, 9 ]. We suggest that ecological filtering due to the temporary loss of significant plant cover across the K-Pg boundary selected against any flying dinosaurs (Avialae [10 ]) committed to arboreal ecologies, resulting in a predominantly non-arboreal postextinction neornithine avifauna composed of totalclade Palaeognathae, Galloanserae, and terrestrial total-clade Neoaves that rapidly diversified into the broad range of avian ecologies familiar today. The explanation proposed here provides a unifying hypothesis for the K-Pg-associated mass extinction of arboreal stem birds, as well as for the post-K-Pg radiation of arboreal crown birds. It also provides a baseline hypothesis to be further refined pending the discovery of additional neornithine fossils from the Latest Cretaceous and earliest Paleogene.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2018. Vol. 28, p. 1825-1831
Keywords [en]
Birds, Aves, Cretaceous, Paleocene, Extinction
National Category
Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Ecosystems and species history
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-3230DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.062OAI: oai:DiVA.org:nrm-3230DiVA, id: diva2:1275964
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-4264
Note

Also supported by:

- a 50th Anniversary Prize Fellowship at the University of Bath.

- a Smithsonian NMNH Deep Time Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellowship.

- NSF grants DGE-1650441 and DEB-1700786.

Available from: 2019-01-01 Created: 2019-01-07Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.062

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