Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 18 March 2013 Time: 12:00 PM ET
To avoid becoming road kill, birds may be evolving to have new traits such as shorter wingspans that allow better maneuverability, new research suggests.
The researchers, who detailed their results today (March 18) in the journal Current Biology, found that the number of cliff swallows hit by cars has declined dramatically over the last 30 years.
Those swallows that do get hit tend to have longer wingspans, suggesting evolution is selecting for birds with shorter wingspans, which can turn away from passing cars more quickly.
"It's possible to observe evolution occurring in contemporary time. Over a 30-year period, we've seen natural selection for birds that are able to avoid being hit by cars," said study co-author Charles Brown of the
of Tulsa in . "The work also illustrates
that some animals can adapt relatively quickly to these urbanized
Scientists have shown that animals, such as Darwin's finches, can evolve to have adaptations to new environments in mere decades. But documenting how animals are evolving to adapt to rapid urbanization is trickier.