Bird nest riddle: Which shape came first? | Science News

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Bird nest riddle: Which shape came first?

Don’t assume simple cup-shaped architecture evolved before roofed structures

By
5:56pm, August 19, 2016
warbling vireo in a cup nest

OPEN QUESTION  A new study questions the intuitively obvious idea that simple cup nests, like this one of a warbling vireo, evolved before nests with roofs.

WASHINGTON — To human thinking, songbird nests now seem to have evolved backwards: The most distant ancestor probably built complex, roofed structures. Simple open-top cup nests came later.

More than 70 percent of songbird species today build some form of that iconic open cup, evolutionary biologist Jordan Price said August 18 at the North American Ornithological Conference. Yet looking at patterns of nest style across recent bird family trees convinced him that the widespread cup style probably isn’t just a leftover from deepest bird origins.

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