The fossilized remains of a tiny bird that lived 62 million years ago suggests that birds burst out of the evolutionary gates once their dinosaur cousins were gone, rapidly diversifying into most of the lineages we see today.
We're distantly related, you and I. Somewhere deep in the past, the two of us share a common ancestor. The same can be said for us and chimps. Or chimps and alligators. But what about alligators and sycamore trees? Or humans and Tyrannosaurus rex? Are you and I, as paleontology expert Brian Switek puts it, distant…
You're looking at an artistic representation of what is known as a Hillis plot — a visual snapshot of the evolutionary relationships connecting Earth's various life forms. Evolutionary biologists would call this a big, circular phylogenetic tree.