Article open access publication

Response to Comment on “Whole-genome analyses resolve early branches in the tree of life of modern birds”

Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), ISSN 0036-8075

Volume 349, 6255, 2015

DOI:10.1126/science.aab1578, Dimensions: pub.1033003820, PMID: 26404820,



  1. (1) American Museum of Natural History, grid.241963.b
  2. (2) New Mexico State University, grid.24805.3b
  3. (3) University of Sydney, grid.1013.3
  4. (4) University of California, San Francisco, grid.266102.1
  5. (5) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  6. (6) Harvard University, grid.38142.3c
  7. (7) Imperial College London, grid.7445.2
  8. (8) The University of Texas at Austin, grid.89336.37
  9. (9) University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, grid.35403.31
  10. (10) Curtin University, grid.1032.0
  11. (11) Beijing Genomics Institute, grid.21155.32
  12. (12) University of Florida, grid.15276.37
  13. (13) Duke Medical Center, grid.414179.e
  14. (14) Howard Hughes Medical Institute, grid.413575.1


Mitchell et al. argue that divergence-time estimates for our avian phylogeny were too young because of an "inappropriate" maximum age constraint for the most recent common ancestor of modern birds and that, as a result, most modern bird orders diverged before the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction event 66 million years ago instead of after. However, their interpretations of the fossil record and timetrees are incorrect.


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