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Reba – Turquoise-Fronted Amazon For the majority of animals, life expectancy is inversely associate with body size: the bigger and heavier you are, the longer you live. However, birds are unique since most species live significantly longer than mammals of comparable body mass.
Then there are the parrots: They have one of the longest life spans among all birds. Is their extraordinary longevity a result of genetics? Dr. Wirthlin and a sizable multinational team of scientists from several institutions in Brazil and the US decided to look into this subject.
Rico is a senior bird because he was born in 1970. Another amazon named Paco, who has eyesight issues, is the subject of his friendship. Rico serves as Paco’s watchful eye and guardian.
Morgan Wirthlin, an evolutionary neuroscientist, and genomicist at Carnegie Mellon University said in an email: “[M]y dream as a researcher is to discover the processes that allowed us to evolve complex vocal behaviors — everything from human speech to dolphin communication to birdsong, parrot imitation, and even the songs of bats (I’ve worked in all of these systems!) (Most of this research was conducted while she was a graduate student at Oregon Health & Science University.)
Dr. Wirthlin was a member of a sizable multinational research team that examined the genomes of an Amazon parrot and 26 other bird species and discovered that parrots and other long-lived birds share a lot of identical mutations in genes related to longevity.
Dr. Wirthlin and her team sequenced the genome of Moises, a blue-fronted amazon parrot (Amazona aestiva), in order to learn more about the longevity of parrots and other unique characteristics.
This required disassembling the parrot’s chromosomes, sequencing the bits, and then accurately reassembling them using computers. In comparison to earlier sequencing methods, this state-of-the-art procedure called genome assembly has resulted in a significant rise in high-quality sequence data and a reduction in both time and cost.