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Bird Louse Study Shows How Evolution Sometimes Repeats Itself

Published: August 16, 2012.
By University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This finding surprised the researchers because wing lice from many types of birds look more similar to one another than they do to head or body lice living on the same birds.

"If you were just guessing at their ancestry based on external traits, you would think the wing lice on different birds were more closely related to one another than they were to head or body lice on the same bird," Johnson said. The genetic tree showed that different types of feather lice living on the same type of bird were often closely related, whereas lice that had evolved to survive on specific bird parts, such as the wing, were only distantly related across bird groups, he said.

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