Evolutionary Biology

A Cassin's Sparrow meets its end a long way from home

Every day during fall migration, the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors deliver to the Field Museum a bag of birds that died flying into windows in the loop as they tried to make their way south to their wintering grounds farther south. These salvaged birds provide a critical component of the museum's bird collection, specimens that can be used by researchers for generations to come to learn about many aspects of our area's birdlife.

Video: The Birds and the Trees

Are condors more closely related to hawks or to storks?  New research constantly changes our understanding of how birds are related to each other.  At the Field Museum, Shannon Hackett, John Bates, and Dave Willard keep close eyes on avian systematics, the study of evolutionary relationships among birds.  In the past few years, Shannon has collaborated with researchers from other institutions on the Early Bird project to ask big-picture question of how all birds fit on the avian tree of life.

Video: Leo on Bioluminescence

Beyond the reach of sunlight, thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean, some creatures create their own light known as "bioluminescence." Take a trip through the mind of Leo Smith, who asks questions about deep sea fish evolution. Patterns in diversity can offer clues to why fish have evolved so many ways of brightening up the deep sea. Some seem to use light to blend into their surroundings, others to lure prey out of the surroundings, or even to attract mates.

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