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New Study Has Completely Redrawn Tree of Avian Life

on July 5, 2008

ScienceDaily: “Huge Genome-Scale Phylogenetic Study of Birds Rewrites Evolutionary Tree-of-Life” New science has “completely redrawn” the avian tree of life, undoing the previous view of bird relationships.

The largest-ever genetic study of birds, run by the aptly named Early Bird Assembling the Tree-of-Life Research Project, has evolutionists scrambling to update their charts of evolutionary relationships. “The study challenges current classifications [and] alters our understanding of avian evolution,” reports ScienceDaily. In fact, even the scientific names of dozens of birds will have to be changed to reflect the study’s results.

“The study challenges current classifications [and] alters our understanding of avian evolution.”

The team conducting the study examined DNA from 169 bird species in all major living groups of birds. Interestingly, the news release points out that “[t]he evolution of birds has been notoriously difficult to determine” and that “[m]any previous studies of avian evolution yielded conflicting results.” Furthermore, we read that:

This is probably because modern birds arose relatively quickly (within a few million years) during an explosive radiation that occurred sometime between 65 million and 100 million years ago. The result of this rapid divergence early in the evolutionary history of birds is the fact that many groups of similar-looking birds (for example, owls, parrots and doves) have few, if any, living intermediary forms linking them to other well-defined groups of birds. This makes it very difficult to determine how some of these groups are evolutionarily related.

Many readers will note that this explanation plays directly into creationists’ hands—it is, essentially, the evolutionary doublespeak for facts that are explained clearly by the creation model. The alleged “rapid divergence” in birds, with “few, if any” living intermediary forms tells us that birds did not all evolve gradually from a common ancestor, but rather different unique kinds of birds were created at the beginning (though there has been variation within those kinds since creation).

Previously, bird groupings were based more on shared environments and lifestyles.

Previously, bird groupings were based more on shared environments and lifestyles; however, various genetic connections between the birds have forced evolutionists to conclude different birds adapted to different environments or lifestyles independently. This has led to such counterintuitive conclusions as falcons not being closely related to hawks and eagles and white, swift-flying tropicbirds not being related to pelicans and other waterbirds. Also, bright, day-loving hummingbirds are now said to have evolved from drab, nocturnal nightjars.

The Field Museum’s Sushma Reddy, one of the authors of the study, explained, “We now have a robust evolutionary tree from which to study the evolution of birds and all their interesting features that have fascinated so many scientists and amateurs for centuries.” On the contrary, it sounds like this genetic analysis, which was predicated on assumed-to-be-true evolution, has actually muddled our understanding of bird kinds.

Ultimately, there are two models to explain the origin of life on earth: creation and evolution. Both viewpoints interpret facts according to their presuppositions, and thus each side has developed different models of biology, zoology, etc. When it comes to birds, which model seems to best explain the facts—the “latest, greatest” evolution model that replaces yesterday’s and results in counterintuitive relationships, or the biblically derived creation model that explains the life we see in logical groupings of created kinds with in-kind variation?

Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us.

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