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March 19 2013

Swallows evolve shorter wings to avoid cars, study suggests


Cars and trucks thundering down the road in southwestern Nebraska stand a much lower chance today of smacking a cliff swallow than they did in the 1980s, according to a new study that suggests the birds have evolved shorter wings to pivot away from oncoming traffic.

The adaptation is important for the birdsí survival given that they nest by the thousands under bridges and overpasses there, noted Charles Brown, a biologist at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma who regularly drives those same roads to and from a nearby research station.

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