A University of Adelaide study into New Zealand’s acanthisittid wrens has provided compelling evidence that, contrary to some suggestions, New Zealand was not completely submerged under the ocean around 21 to 25 million years ago.
“Most surprisingly, we found that some of the wren species were only distantly related to each other, potentially sharing a common ancestor over 25 million years ago,” Dr Mitchell says.
“Previously, researchers have suggested that New Zealand was completely submerged 21 to 25 million years ago, which implies that all of New Zealand’s unique plants and animals must have immigrated and diversified more recently than that time.
“But the ancient divergences we found among the wrens suggest that they have been resident in New Zealand for more than 25 million years, and possibly as long as 50 million years (when New Zealand became disconnected from the rest of Gondwana). More. Paper. (paywall) – Kieren J. Mitchell, Jamie R. Wood, Bastien Llamas, Patricia A. McLenachan, Olga Kardailsky, R. Paul Scofield, Trevor H. Worthy, Alan Cooper. Ancient mitochondrial genomes clarify the evolutionary history of New Zealand’s enigmatic acanthisittid wrens. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 2016; 102: 295 DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2016.05.038
Science is full of surprises if we are not too dogmatic to notice them.
See also: New Zealand crows get smarter every time we study them
Follow UD News at Twitter!