Scientists have unraveled the great mystery of the smallest birds

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Ученые разгадали большую тайну самой маленькой птички Little kiwi bird lives in New Zealand.

It feeds on insects and lead a nocturnal life. A distinctive feature of the kiwi is that it can’t fly.

New Zealand residents are very proud of their famous kiwi bird. However, this island can no longer claim the title of her historical homeland. This conclusion was made by scientists from Australia’s University of Adelaide. The results of their work were published in the scientific journal Science.

The experts also failed to prove that the EMU is not the closest relative of the kiwi, as previously thought. This little bird is most closely related to elephant bird, lived in Madagascar previously. She reached 2-3 meters in height and weighed about 275 lbs. it was also found that both species once were able to fly. But then forgotten.

The kiwi lives in New Zealand, but it is not her homeland

Little kiwi lives in New Zealand and is an integral part of the culture of this country. In order to find out who is the closest prartice kiwi, scientists conducted a DNA analysis of all giant ratites birds (birds that can’t fly). In particular, this unit includes EMUs and ostriches.

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Several million years ago the outstanding representatives of this order have been extinct species of giant bird, the MoA lived in New Zealand and the elephant birds of Madagascar. According to the researchers, ratites birds appeared in the result of the separation of the Southern continents 130 million years ago.

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Scientists got DNA from elephant bird bones, held at the Museum of New Zealand. After the analysis, experts revealed the close genetic relationship between the kiwi and the elephant bird, despite the striking differences in geography, morphology and habitat.

Bird kiwi. Interesting facts

“This result was completely unexpected. New Zealand and Madagascar very much physically removed and they were joined via Antarctica and Australia. Therefore, this result shows that ratites birds previously able to fly. Otherwise they would not be able to spread to such great distances around the world,” — said Kieren Mitchell — Director of research.

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Australian scientists slightly corrected the results of the work of Professor Alan Cooper. In 1990 he decided that the closest relatives of the kiwi were the Australian EMU and cassowary . “It’s great that we finally managed to establish the truth. But in 1990, new Zealanders were shocked and dismayed when I learned that the bird is their national mascot, in fact was an immigrant from Australia. I can only apologise that it took so much time to get to the truth, ” laments Alan Cooper.

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According to experts, the evidence suggests that the ancestors of ratites birds scattered around the world right after the dinosaurs went extinct. It happened before the mammals dramatically increased in size and became the dominant group.

“We believe that ratites birds used the only opportunity to become large herbivores. But as soon as mammals increased in size (about 50 million years ago), no other bird no longer tried to repeat the same number. Except for Dodo birds, but the island did not have mammals”, explains the scientist.

“We recently found fossils of kiwi ancestors, which we’re guessing was able to fly. Genetic analysis confirmed that kiwis were flying when they arrived in New Zealand,” reports study co-author Trevor Worthy.

“This also explains why the kiwi remained small birds. By the time when they arrived in New Zealand, the role of large herbivores has already taken a giant MoA bird. Thus, the kiwi was forced to stay small and become insectivorous and nocturnal life”, — said the scientist.

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