Found: The First Known Hybrid Bird Species in the Amazon Rain Forest








The golden-crowned manakin is the only known hybrid species in the Amazon. Resistance to crossing rivers gave it the space to evolve into something new.

The golden-crowned manakin, a rare tropical bird with a green mantle and bright yellow feathers that would look right at home in a David Hockney painting, was first spotted in the Brazilian rain forest in 1957. It wasn’t seen again for 45 years, until its rediscovery in 2002.

A new study reveals that the bird is even more than meets the eye—it’s actually a hybrid of two other manakin species. “While hybrid plant species are very common, hybrid species among vertebrates are exceedingly rare,” said Jason Weir, a biologist at the University of Toronto, in a press release. Weir and his team, which published its findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sequenced much of the birds’s genome, and found that it shares genetic markers with two other species: the opal-crowned and snow-capped manakins.

Hybrids do exist in nature, but its very rare to see them evolve into their own species. In this case, the three kinds of manakins are separated by wide rivers, and the birds don’t like to cross them. As the release explains, this isolation was critical to the relatively recent emergence—around 180,000 years ago—of the golden-crowned manakin. “Without geographic isolation,” Weir said in the release, “it’s very likely this would never have happened because you don’t see the hybrids evolving as separate species in other areas where both parental species meet.”

 In its time on its own, the golden-crowned manakin has distinguished itself. Both parent species have bright crown feathers that help males to attract females in the darkness of the rain forest. The corresponding feathers on the younger species are a dull gold—so the bird went ahead and evolved its its distinctive bright yellow feathers to stand out under the canopy.
Source: Atlas Obscura
Arno Ambrosius
Mariana Almeida
David Dunham
Gustavo López Ospina
Gertjan Storm
Editor: Pieter Jan Brouwer
“Amazon Pink Dolphin” is the official blog of SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras. The intention of the blog is to generate debate on environmental issues; the Amazon Rain forest in particular. Contributions and support are done on a voluntary basis and do not imply institutional affiliation.  Similarly opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the official position of SVSF.
All Title photographs of the Amazon Pink fresh water Dolphin are the creation of Kevin Schafer.

~ by SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras on 19 January, 2018.

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