Study of bird lice shows how evolution sometimes repeats itself

Kevin Johnson

CHAMPAIGN, lll. – Birds of a feather flock together and—according to a new analysis—so do their lice.

A study of the genetic heritage of avian feather lice indicates that their louse ancestors first colonized a particular group of birds (ducks or songbirds, for example) and then “radiated” to different habitats on those birds – to the wings or heads, for instance, where they evolved into different species. 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.

Read the full story from the University of Illinois News Bureau here.

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