This “Early Bird” gets more than a worm
The early bird in this picture has found a cladogram, or a branching diagram that shows the evolutionary relationships between different groups of animals. “Early Bird” is a project recently funded by the National Science Foundation as part of a massive effort to map the Tree of Life. It will help determine how major groups of birds are related to each other – as well as to all living things.
Information about evolutionary relationships has helped scientists focus research; track the origin and spread of diseases; develop new medicines and agrochemical products; conserve species; and restore ecosystems, according to Shannon Hackett, PhD, Field Museum assistant curator of birds and an Early Bird principal investigator.
Illustration by M. Skakuj, Courtesy of The Field Museum
An ambitious, multi-disciplinary, 15-20 year program to fill in and flesh out the Tree of Life has just been launched by the National Science Foundation.
Field Museum scientists will help lead three of the seven grants recently awarded to researchers around the world to construct a new framework for understanding the evolutionary relationships between all species, extinct and living.
These three projects (listed below) will focus on birds, spiders, and archosaurs (birds, dinosaurs, pterosaurs and crocodiles). They represent more than half the $12 million that NSF awarded for the first year of the Assembling the Tree of Life (AToL) program.
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