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Are cars driving evolution of birds?
by Staff Writers
Tulsa, Okla. (UPI) Mar 18, 2013

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Cars are driving the evolution of birds in Nebraska, leading to birds with shorter wings to take off more quickly and avoid onrushing vehicles, scientists say.

Of the 80 million birds killed in the United States by traffic each year, cliff swallows are particularly vulnerable because many have taken to building their nests on road bridges over streets and highways, researchers say.

However, Charles Brown of the University of Tulsa, who has been counting dead swallows for decades, said roadkill numbers have steadily declined since the 1980s even though the number of swallows nesting on roadsides has risen, reported Monday.

Birds killed by traffic have been found to have longer wings than living birds caught in nets for research, researchers said.

Shorter wings may improve the birds' ability to make quick vertical take-offs and improve their maneuverability, they said.

"Everything fits with the idea that it's vehicular selection," helping them avoid dying on roads by taking off quickly and darting away from cars, Ronald Mumme of Allegheny College in Pennsylvania said.


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'Bonobo heaven': life at a DR Congo ape sanctuary
Kinshasa (AFP) March 17, 2013
Claudine Andre, a 67-year-old Belgian living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has spent the last twenty years dedicated to the protection of the bonobo, an extraordinary species of ape threatened by trafficking and poachers. Walking out of the environment ministry in Kinshasa after lodging a request to rescue an infant ape on display at a local bar, she is visibly worried. "We must ... read more

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