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The universal truths about vultures

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The universal truths about vultures are, as every schoolchild knows, as follows: they have a bare head, a hooked beak, and long, broad wings, and they eat things they find dead. … So when, in the 1980s, the newly developed techniques for hybridizing strands of DNA revealed that the New World vultures may not be vultures at all but close relatives of the storks, it created something of a sensation.


What is perhaps most remarkable, however, is not that New and Old World vultures may not be related but that two possibly unrelated groups of birds have come to look so alike. 


This similarity is the result of a process called convergent evolution. It’s the selective pressures of the lifestyle that shape an animal, not the shape of an animal that dictates the lifestyle — given sufficient time, that is. So when different animal groups share the same ecological niche independently of one another there is a tendency for them to reinvent the wheel, finding the same solutions to the same challenges and ultimately coming to look very much alike.

Storks deliver babies when we're born, vultures pick apart the pieces when we die.

Cradle to grave, there are birds.

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