Amazon forest’s golden-crowned manikins are rare evolved hybrids, say scientists
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Amazon forest’s golden-crowned manikins are rare evolved hybrids, say scientists

In an astonishing find, scientists have discovered a unique type of bird species from the Amazon forest. The birds are called golden-crowned manikins, and as per the scientists, these are the first ever avian species known to have originated from the hybrid offspring of two other living species.

The scientists further informed that this golden-crowned manikin has evolved to form its own distinct species. That means, the hybrid golden-crowned manikins originally started as hybrid of two different species, and then it evolved to become a new unique and distinct bird. The golden-crowned manikins were first discovered in July 1957 by Brazilian scientists Helmut Sick and Raimundo Costa. They gathered three three adult males from a small tributary situated to the left of the upper Rio Curururi in the Brazilian Amazon.

The only holotype of the species is kept at the Museu Nacional Rio de Janeiro, and the two specimens were sent to the American Museum of the National History and Museum für Naturkunde Alexander Humboldt. Since its discovery, scientists are trying to analyze the hybrid avian species and speculations were there that the golden-crowned manikin was a hybrid offspring of the snow-capped manikin and Opal-crowned manikin. But scientists could not confirm this hypothesis as they had no records about the hybrid avian species. When they returned to the bird’s habitat to analyze it in details, they could not find out its exact location. Also, many people thought the golden crown manikins to be the unremarkable hybrids of local avians and they were unaware of the fact that they were ere looking at species distinct from other local species.

So, scientists decided to apply gene testing on the bird and from genetic testing they confirmed that the golden-crowned manikin was actually its own, distinct species. As scientists could not clearly figure out how the bird originated they tried another experiment. They gathered feathers from the area of Brazil where the golden-crowned manikins lived and then sequenced most of its genomes. They also did DNA sequencing on Opal-crowned and snow-capped manikins. The scientists compared the three species as they thought that they were almost similar to each other in terms of looks and behavior and all of them lived in close proximity.

But, after analyzing the results of DNA sequencing scientists discovered that the Opal-crowned and snow-capped manikins were the parent species of the golden-crowned manikins. The two different parent species mated and gave birth to the hybrid golden-crowned manikins about 180000 years ago. Professor Jason Weir, senior author of the research, informed that Most Amazon bird species diverged from their most recent relative around 1.5 to 4 million years ago. But in case of the opal- and snow-capped manikin species the researchers found that these parents diverged from one common ancestor around 300,000 years ago. Normally, a hybrid species is born when two separate species interbreed. But the hybrid species cannot breed with its parent species. Therefore, opal- and snow-capped manikin species must have given birth to more than one golden-crowned manakin so that they could reproduce and survive.