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Birds of a feather: hummingbird family tree unveiled

03 / 04 / 2014, Yahoo Science

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For such small creatures, hummingbirds certainly have racked up an outsized list of unique claims to fame. Researchers constructed the family tree of these nectar-eating birds using genetic information from most of the world's 338 hummingbird species and their closest relatives. They said hummingbirds can be divided into nine groups, with differences in size, habitat, feeding strategy and body shape. The common ancestor to all species in existence today lived about 22 million years ago in South America, several million years after hummingbirds were known to be flourishing in Europe, they said.

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