Emus. New research suggests that ancestors of the African ostrich, Australasian emu plus cassowary, South American rheas and New Zealand moa became flightless independently, in close association with the extinction of the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago.
ScienceDaily (Jan. 26, 2010) — An abundance of food and lack of predators following the extinction of dinosaurs saw previously flighted birds fatten up and become flightless, according to new research from The Australian National University.
The study, led by Dr Matthew Phillips, an ARC Postdoctoral Fellow at the ANU Research School of Biology, looked at the mitochondrial genome sequences of the now-extinct giant moa birds of New Zealand. To their surprise, the researchers found that rather than having a flightless relative, their closest relatives are the small flying tinamous of South America.
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