Erich D. Jarvis, Siavash Mirarab, Andre J. Aberer, Bo Li, Peter Houde, Cai Li, Simon Y. W. Ho, Brant C. Faircloth, Benoit Nabholz, Jason T. Howard, Alexander Suh, Claudia C. Weber, Rute R. da Fonseca, Jianwen Li, Fang Zhang, Hui Li, Long Zhou, Nitish Narula, Liang Liu, Ganesh Ganapathy, Bastien Boussau, Md. Shamsuzzoha Bayzid, Volodymyr Zavidovych, Sankar Subramanian, Toni Gabaldón, Salvador Capella- Gutiérrez, Jaime Huerta-Cepas, Bhanu Rekepalli, Kasper Munch, Mikkel Schierup, Bent Lindow, Wesley C. Warren, David Ray, Richard E. Green, Michael Bruford, Xiangjiang Zhan, Andrew Dixon, Shengbin Li, Ning Li, Yinhua Huang, Elizabeth P. Derryberry, Mads Frost Bertelsen, Frederick Sheldon, Robb T. Brumfield, Claudio Mello, Peter V. Lovell, Morgan Wirthlin, José Alfredo Samaniego, Amhed Missael Vargas Velazquez, Alonzo Alfaro-Núñez, Paula F. Campos, Bent Petersen, Thomas Sicheritz-Ponten, An Pas, Tom Bailey, Paul Scofield, Michael Bunce, David Lambert, Qi Zhou, Polina Perelman, Amy C. Driskell, Beth Shapiro, Zijun Xiong, Yongli Zeng, Shiping Liu, Zhenyu Li, Binghang Liu, Kui Wu, Jin Xiao, Xiong Yinqi, Qiuemei Zheng, Yong Zhang, Huanming Yang, Jian Wang, Linnea Smeds, Frank E. Rheindt, Michael Braun, Jon Fjeldsa, Ludovic Orlando, Keith Barker, Knud Andreas Jønsson, Warren Johnson, Klaus-Peter Koepfli, Stephen O'Brien, David Haussler, Oliver A. Ryder, Carsten Rahbek, Eske Willerslev, Gary R. Graves, Travis C. Glenn, John McCormack, Dave Burt, Hans Ellegren, Per Alström, Scott V. Edwards, Alexandros Stamatakis, David P. Mindell, Joel Cracraft, Edward L. Braun, Tandy Warnow, Wang Jun, M Thomas P Gilbert, and Guojie Zhang, 'Whole Genome Analyses Resolve the Early Branches to the Tree of Life of Modern Birds', Science (2014).
To better determine the history of modern birds, we performed a genome-scale phylogenetic analysis of 48 species representing all orders of Neoaves using phylogenomic methods created to handle genomescale data. We recovered a highly resolved tree that confirms previously controversial sister or close relationships. We identified the first divergence in Neoaves, two groups we named Passerea and Columbea, representing independent lineages of diverse, and convergently evolved, land and water bird species. Among Passerea we infer the common ancestor of core landbirds to have been an apex predator, and confirm independent gains of vocal learning. Among Columbea we identify pigeons and flamingoes as belonging to sister clades. Even with whole genomes, some of the earliest branches in Neoaves proved challenging to resolve, which was best explained by massive protein coding sequence convergence and high levels of incomplete lineage sorting that occurred during a rapid radiation following the K-Pg mass extinction event about 66 million years ago.