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Fossil sheds light on bird evolution after asteroid strike

The fossil of a tiny bird that lived 62 million years ago confirms that birds evolved very rapidly after the asteroid strike that wiped out the dinosaurs.
The sparrow-sized tree-dweller lived ''just a geological blink of an eye" after the mass extinction.
Bird fossils from that time period are very rare.
Analysis suggests the ancestors of most modern birds, from owls to woodpeckers, had taken to the wing within four million years of the asteroid strike.

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Avian eggs
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Cracking the mystery of avian egg shape

A team of international scientists - including an archaeologist from the University of Bristol - have cracked the mystery of why bird eggs are shaped the way they are.
According to the new research published today in the journal Science, egg shape in birds is related to adaptations for efficient flight and a mechanistic model reveals how different egg shapes may be formed.

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Albatrosses counted from space

Scientists have started counting individual birds from space.
They are using the highest-resolution satellite images available to gauge the numbers of Northern Royal albatrosses.
This endangered animal nests almost exclusively on some rocky sea-stacks close to New Zealand's Chatham Islands.

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Ground-breaking fossilised tissue reveals the gradual evolution of crouched legs in birds

Living birds have a more crouched leg posture compared to their dinosaurian ancestors, which generally are thought to have moved with straighter limbs - similar to the postures of humans.
A joint study by researchers from the UK and China, including the University of Bristol, sheds light on how birds shifted toward this more crouched posture.

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Parrot fossil
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Parrot fossil unearthed in Siberia

A parrot fossil has been unearthed in Siberia - the furthest north one of these birds has ever been found, a study reports.
A single parrot bone was discovered in the Baikal region and dates to between 16 and 18 million years ago.
It suggests that the birds, which today mainly inhabit tropical and sub-tropical regions, may once have been widespread in Eurasia.

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Proteins from 'deep time' found in ostrich eggshell

Scientists have found preserved proteins in 3.8-million-year-old ostrich eggshells from Africa.
The researchers say these biological building blocks - bound into the eggshell - could provide genetic information up to 50 times older than any DNA.
 
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Aepyornis
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Rare egg of extinct Elephant bird to sell at auction

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RE: Birds
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DNA reveals bird habitat shift surprise

A "dramatic" shift in behaviour and appearance obscured the identity of two birds on remote Indonesian islands.
DNA samples confirmed their true identities, and it suggests that birds can change appearance in short periods of time.

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Chicks place low numbers on the left

Scientists in Italy have found that baby chickens associate low and high numbers with left and right, respectively - just like humans.
In a series of experiments, 60 newborn chicks were shown patterns of shapes representing different numbers, before choosing a direction.

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Birds Lost Their Sweet Tooth, Hummingbirds Got Theirs Back

In 2004, the chicken became the first bird to have its genome fully sequenced. Its DNA revealed something odd - or rather, an odd lack of something. It was missing a gene called T1R2, which we and other mammals need to taste sweet foods. Chickens, it seemed, can't taste sweets.
They aren't alone. Maude Baldwin from Harvard University and Yasuka Toda from the University of Tokyo looked at the genomes of 10 different birds, from falcons to finches and ducks to doves. None of them had T1R2. Alligators do, and they're some of the closest living relatives of birds. So at some point, as birds evolved from small dinosaurs, they lost their sweet tooth.

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