Computational tools fuel reconstruction of new and improved bird family tree

Using cutting-edge computational methods and supercomputing infrastructure, researchers have built the largest and most detailed bird family tree to date -- an intricate chart delineating 93 million years of evolutionary relationships between 363 bird species, representing 92% of all bird families. The updated tree reveals sharp increases in effective population size, substitution rates and relative brain size in early birds in the aftermath of the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. And by closely examining one of the branches of this tree, researchers found that flamingos and doves are more distantly related than previous genome-wide analyses had shown.