By: CG Sibley and JE Ahlquist
1008 pages, 385 figs
This massive tome presents the results of a study of the evolutionary history and classification of living birds, based on comparison of the DNA of 1700 species. They used a technique called `DNA-DNA hybridization' - a biochemical method that measures the degree of genetic similarity between the DNAs of different species. The first chapters give an introduction to DNA and the study method, but the bulk of the book concerns the phylogeny and classification of birds. There is a chronological survey of the classifications of birds since Linnaeus. For each order and family the history of classification is given, morphological characters are noted, and evidence of the phylogeny and genetic relationships are given. A valuable text for ornithologists and other biologists, and the basis for future works on avian classification, it forms a companion volume to the title Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World.
`... will stir up debate concerning the taxonomic ordering of birds for years to come...' David Parkin, British Birds
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