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Study Shows That The First Tree-Dwelling Birds Went Extinct With Dinosaurs

The asteroid that killed dinosaurs 66 million years ago, also led to the extinction of the first tree-dwelling birds, finds a study.

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Skeleton of a dinosaur, pixabay
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The asteroid that killed dinosaurs 66 million years ago, also led to the extinction of the first tree-dwelling birds, finds a study.

The asteroid that crashed to Earth with a force one million times more than the largest atomic bomb decimated the planet’s forests as well as its canopies.

With no more perches, the perching birds went extinct. The ones that are alive today are descendants of a handful of ground-dwelling species, like modern ground birds such as kiwis and emus, the researchers said.

“The temporary elimination of forests in the aftermath of the asteroid impact explains why arboreal birds failed to survive across this extinction event,” said lead author Daniel Field, from the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath, UK.

“The ancestors of modern arboreal birds did not move into the trees until forests had recovered from the extinction-causing asteroid.

“Only a handful of ancestral bird lineages succeeded in surviving the mass extinction event 66 million years ago, and all of today’s amazing living bird diversity can be traced to these ancient survivors,” Field added.

This fossil provides a unique insight into how crocodiles began evolving into dolphin and killer whale-like forms more than 180 million years ago," said Mark Young, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences in Britain.
Dinosaur Fossil. pixabay

The study, appearing in the journal Current Biology, determined the destruction of the world’s forests, by looking at microscopic fossils of pollen and spores.

The fossil record immediately after the asteroid hit shows the charcoal remains of burnt trees, and then, tons of fern spores, the researchers said.

“Our study examined the fossil record from New Zealand, Japan, Europe and North America, which showed there was a mass deforestation across the globe at the end of the Cretaceous period,” said Antoine Bercovici, pollen expert at the Smithsonian Institution and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

With no more trees, the tree-dwelling birds went extinct. The birds that did manage to survive were ground-dwellers — birds whose fossilised remains show longer, sturdier legs like we see in modern ground birds like kiwis and emus.

Though the dinosaurs and their perching bird neighbours died 66 million years ago, their plight is relevant today, the researchers noted.

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“The end-Cretaceous event is the fifth mass extinction — we’re in the sixth,” Dunn said.

“It’s important for us to understand what happens when you destroy an ecosystem, like with deforestation and climate change — so we can know how our actions will affect what comes after us,” Dunn noted. (IANS)

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Scientists Creating Hybrids To Save Rhinos From Extinction

Scientists say they're several steps closer to perfecting a method for saving the northern white rhino from extinction

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A keeper walks with a female northern white rhino as she is let out of her pen to graze at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, Dec. 2, 2014. VOA

Scientists say they’re several steps closer to perfecting a method for saving the northern white rhino from extinction.

Writing in the journal Nature Communications, researchers said Wednesday that they had succeeded in creating embryos using frozen northern white rhino sperm and eggs from a southern white rhino.

Scientists Creating Hybrids To Save Rhinos From Extinction
Scientists Creating Hybrids To Save Rhinos From Extinction. Pixabay

It’s the first time such hybrid embryos have been created, and the scientists from Europe and the United States hope it will provide a pathway to saving the northern white rhino subspecies, of which only two females remain.

Also read: Captive Rhinos face metabolic disorders despite nutritious food

They plan to harvest the females’ egg cells soon and produce “pure” northern white rhinos to be borne by a southern white surrogate in three years. They’re also working on a second method that would see sperm and eggs produced from preserved cells of northern white rhinos. (VOA)