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I’m Alexander Suh, my paper evaluates the evolutionary signature of modern birds and discovered extreme degrees of complex conflict at onset of the “big bang” of modern birds, when speciation of birds began rapidly after dinosaur extinction – AMA!
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Hi Reddit, My name is Alexander Suh and I am a postdoctoral researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden. My research focuses on the evolution of birds and their genomic parasites, such as transposons and viruses. We recently published a study in PLOS Biology titled “The dynamics of incomplete lineage sorting across the ancient adaptive radiation of neoavian birds”. There we analyzed the evolutionary signature of what some call the ‘big bang’ of modern birds, a rapid succession of speciation events following the extinction of dinosaurs. We used ancient retrotransposon insertions from 48 bird genomes to reconstruct evolutionary relationships, showing that most of the bird Tree of Life can be reliably resolved by our study and previous studies. However, we were surprised to find that the very onset of the ‘big bang’ of modern birds harbors extreme degrees of conflict. In fact, the conflicts are so complex that they look more like a network than a tree. Our explanation for this complexity is that bird speciation in the direct aftermath of dinosaur extinction was extremely rapid, potentially too rapid to be resolvable as a single tree. I will be answering your questions at 1 pm EST (10am PST, 7 pm CET). Ask Me About Birds, Transposons, Anything! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @alexander_suh and visit my website.