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The Bizarre Bird That’s Breaking the Tree of Life

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when Josefin Stiller was growing up in Berlin, she loved reading about Greek gods in an encyclopedia of mythology. She often lost track of their relationships, however—their feuds, trysts, and betrayals—as she flipped among the entries. Frustrated, she wrote each name on a card and started to arrange children beneath parents on a desk in her bedroom. As lineages became clear, so did family dramas. Sons killed fathers; uncles kidnapped nieces; siblings fell in love. “I wonder if this experience of reconstructing a family tree primed me to appreciate trees and the powerful insights they hold,” Stiller told me in a recent e-mail.

Years later, as a graduate student in biology, Stiller worked on an evolutionary tree for seahorses and their relatives, using DNA to understand the ancestry of different species. Then, in 2017, she moved to the University of Copenhagen and joined B10K, a scientific collaboration that aims to sequence the genome of every bird species—more than ten thousand in all—and to reveal their connections in a comprehensive tree. The amount of data and computing power required for this mission is almost unfathomable, but the final product should be as simple in principle as the diagram Stiller had assembled as a child. “Everything in biology has a history, and we can show this history as a bifurcating tree,” she said.

Birds are the most diverse vertebrates on land, and they have always been central to ideas about the natural world. In 1837, a taxonomist in London told Charles Darwin that the finches he had shot and carelessly lumped together in the Galápagos Islands were, in fact, many different species. Darwin wondered whether the finches might have shared a common ancestor from mainland South America—whether all of life might have evolved through a process of “descent with modification”—and he drew a rudimentary tree in his private notebook, beneath the words “I think.” The tree showed how a single ancestral population could branch into many species, each with its own evolutionary path. “On the Origin of Species,” published twenty-two years later, includes only one diagram: an evolutionary tree. The tree of life became for biology what the periodic table was for chemistry—both a foundation and an emblem for the field. “The time will come I believe, though I shall not live to see it, when we shall have fairly true genealogical trees of each great kingdom of nature,” Darwin wrote to a friend.

The rise of genome sequencing, at the turn of the twenty-first century, seemed to bring Darwin’s dream within reach. “It is now realistic to conceive of reconstructing the entire Tree of Life—eventually to include all of the living and extinct species,” Joel Cracraft, the curator of birds at the American Museum of Natural History, wrote, in 2004. The naturalist E. O. Wilson predicted that such a tree could unify biology. Its value to such fields as agriculture, conservation, and medicine would be incalculable; evolutionary trees have already deepened our understanding of sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19. By mapping a major branch on the tree of life, B10K aims to light the way.

When Stiller joined the project, her colleagues were combing through museums and laboratories to sample three hundred and sixty-three bird species, chosen carefully to represent the diversity of living birds. With help from four supercomputers in three different countries, they began to compare each bird’s DNA to figure out how they were related. “I think there was always this idea that, once we sequence full genomes, we will be able to solve it,” Stiller told me. But, early in the process, she encountered an evolutionary enigma called Opisthocomus hoazin. “I was completely amazed by this bird,” she said.

Hoatzins, which live along oxbow lakes in tropical South America, have blood-red eyes, blue cheeks, and crests of spiky auburn feathers. Their chicks have primitive claws on their tiny wings and respond to danger by plunging into water and then clawing their way back to their nests—a trait that inspired some ornithologists to link them to dinosaurs. Other taxonomists argued that the hoatzin is closely related to pheasants, cuckoos, pigeons, and a group of African birds called turacos. Alejandro Grajal, the director of Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, said that the bird looks like a “punk-rock chicken,” and smells like manure because it digests leaves through bacterial fermentation, similar to a cow.

DNA research has not solved the mysteries of the hoatzin; it has deepened them. One 2014 analysis suggested that the bird’s closest living relatives are cranes and shorebirds such as gulls and plovers. Another, in 2020, concluded that this clumsy flier is a sister species to a group that includes tiny, hovering hummingbirds and high-speed swifts. “Frankly, there is no one in the world who knows what hoatzins are,” Cracraft, who is now a member of B10K, said. The hoatzin may be more than a missing piece of the evolutionary puzzle. It may be a sphinx with a riddle that many biologists are reluctant to consider: What if the pattern of evolution is not actually a tree?

Fossils that resemble hoatzins have been found in Europe and Africa, but today the birds can be found only in the river basins of the Amazon and Orinoco of South America. I live in Germany, so I visited them in Berlin’s Museum of Natural History, where cabinets are filled with thousands of stuffed birds. Sylke Frahnert, the bird curator, kept two taxidermy hoatzins on a shelf near the cuckoos and turacos, which seems as good a place as any. Over the years, there have been so many conflicting trees of birds, she told me. “You would have been crazy to change the collection with every one.” One of the museum’s hoatzins was shot in Brazil more than two centuries ago, and the years have drained the color from its face. I had heard that even the specimens smell like manure, but Frahnert warned me not to sniff them, since birds were once preserved with arsenic.

In the eighteenth century, natural-history museums started using anatomical similarities to classify plants and animals into increasingly specific categories: class, order, family, genus, species. Darwin realized that species share traits because their ancestors were one and the same. Fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals all have spines, but not because God had given them to each creature separately; rather, the spine suggested a “common parent” living long ago. The construction of evolutionary trees was dubbed “phylogeny,” literally meaning “the generation of species,” by the zoologist Ernst Haeckel. The more traits two species shared, the theory went, the more recently they had shared a common ancestor. Human beings and other great apes evolved from a common ancestor millions of years ago, but even human beings and bacteria have a common ancestor—the first known living organisms, which date to three and a half billion years ago.

Hoatzins—“in some respects the most aberrant of birds,” according to one Victorian ornithologist—were a problem from the beginning. Early European naturalists described them as pheasants, and the first major tree for birds, published in 1888 by Max Fürbringer, placed them on the fowl branch. But, by the early nineteen-hundreds, some scientists were comparing hoatzins and cuckoos on the basis of traits such as jaws and feathers, and others were noting similarities between hoatzins and turacos, pigeons, barn owls, and rails. Even the hoatzin’s parasites defied classification: they hosted feather lice found on no other birds.

One crucial problem in phylogeny was convergent evolution. Sometimes natural selection nudges two organisms toward the same trait. Birds and bats independently evolved the ability to fly. Swifts and swallows each evolved into aerodynamic insectivores with nearly identical silhouettes, but traits such as their vocal organs and foot bones reveal that they are only distantly related. Because taxonomists often disagreed about things such as how to distinguish common ancestry from convergent evolution, the literature grew thick with conflicting trees, to the point that some twentieth-century biologists seemed ready to give up. “The construction of phylogenetic trees has opened the door to a wave of uninhibited speculation,” one wrote in 1959. “Science ends where comparative morphology, comparative physiology, comparative ethology have failed us.”

Phylogeny made a comeback in the seventies and eighties, after the German entomologist Willi Hennig developed more rigorous criteria for identifying common ancestry and drawing evolutionary trees. These innovations laid a foundation for a new wave of research that did not rely solely on physical specimens but, rather, on the emerging science of DNA. “Organisms are related to one another by the degree to which they share genetic information,” two ornithologists wrote in the early nineties, adding that genetics could reveal “a different view of the process of evolution and its effects.” The typical bird genome is a string of more than a billion base pairs that mutate randomly over time. Scientists can compare the same parts of the genome across multiple species to estimate their evolutionary closeness. Typically, species that share mutations have a more recent common ancestor, and species that do not are more distantly related.

Early sequencing was expensive and tedious, but, by the beginning of the twenty-first century, a signal was emerging from the noise. The journal Nature published an article about the promise of a single unified tree of life. But its author also identified a complication: each genome contains many different genes, and each one could generate a different evolutionary tree.

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4 Important Tips for Having a Vacation Abroad

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4 Important Tips for Having a Vacation Abroad

Are you planning to go abroad but still don’t know what to prepare? People dream of going abroad, especially to countries like America and Europe. If this is your first time going abroad, you should check the following tips!

Prepare All Important Documents

The first thing you need to do is prepare important documents. For example, passports, ID cards, visas, and international driving licenses if you are going to drive abroad. Make sure you know whether the country you are going to visit is visa-free or not. For Southeast Asian countries, the Maldives and Turkey are visa-free, so you only have to have a passport. But a visa is still needed if you want to go to South Korea, Europe, or America. Make sure to scan your document and save it in the cloud like Google Drive or iCloud. Oh, yes, remember to check your vaccination status. Because every country needs your health information.

Make Itineraries

Itinerary is important for those who want to travel abroad. The reason is holidays abroad cost a lot of money, so when you can, take advantage of it with a well-planned schedule. Research in detail the tourist destinations you want to visit. For example, what is unique in it, ticket prices, transportation to get there, to the distance from the inn you’re staying. Remember to include places to eat that you want to try. Make sure the place to eat is according to your preferences, such as halal or free of certain food allergies.

Book Tickets in Advance

When you know how long you will be on vacation with the itinerary that has been prepared, it’s time to book plane tickets and lodging. Find cheap tickets by:

  1. Using promos and discounts on travel agent applications.
  2. Comparing which price is lower and what kind of facilities you will get.
  3. Choosing accommodation that fits your budget but is still comfortable.

Oh yes, also remember to check how the pandemic situation is in the country you are going to visit. Do you have to quarantine or not? Because it will affect your itinerary and accommodation. Due to the pandemic conditions that have not fully recovered, check whether there is still Indonesia quarantine after returning from vacation.

Exchange Money and Check Your ATM Cards

Exchange your currency into the destination country’s currency, for example, yen, euros, dollars, won, and others. But remember, don’t carry too much cash because it’s also prone to theft, besides being wasteful. For the rest, you can do cashless transactions. Check your bank’s ATM card to see if it has Visa, MasterCard, or Cirrus logos. This row of stamps indicates that your bank is working with banks abroad. Or you can also use a credit card to make your transaction easier.

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Down 43%, Is This Tech Stock Worth Buying Right Now?

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Down 43%, Is This Tech Stock Worth Buying Right Now?

Skyworks Solutions (NASDAQ: SWKS) announced its fiscal 2022 fourth-quarter results (for the three months ended September 30) on November 3, and the supplier Apple’s stock price has risen 11% since then.

Skyworks beat expectations and showed solid growth at a time when smartphone sales were declining, but forecasts show the chipmaker is about to hit a bump. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the latest results from the chipmaker. Let’s take a closer look at whether the stock can sustain new momentum after losing 43% of its value in 2022.

Skyworks solutions deliver reliable results for non-mobile businesses
Skyworks’ fourth-quarter revenue increased 7% year-over-year to a record $1.4 billion. The company also reported non-GAAP (adjusted) earnings of $3.02 per share, up 15% year-over-year. Skyworks easily justified analyst estimates of $2.91 per share. For the year, the company’s revenue increased 7% to $5.5 billion and earnings rose similarly to $11.24 per share.

The strong growth of chipmakers in the fourth quarter was the result of successful diversification into new markets such as Internet of Things (IoT) and automotive, as well as relationships with major smartphone original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Yes, it helped make up for it. Weakness in the smartphone market. space. However, it was the non-mobile business that put a lot of effort into Skyworks last quarter.
As CFO Chris Sennesael noted in the report, the company generated $500 million in revenue from broad market segments (counting chip sales for non-mobile applications like IoT), up 30% from the previous year. Last earnings conference call. Broad market companies contributed 36% of Skyworks’ revenue last quarter, up from 29% in the same period last year.

It’s also worth noting that Skyworks earned $2 billion in revenue from this segment for the entire fiscal year. That’s almost 43% more than the $1.4 billion in revenue last fiscal year. The good news is that the company’s business in a wide range of markets can maintain its momentum. This is because, as Skyworks showed in its earnings report, it is attracting new customers in high-growth niches like IoT.

“In IoT, we continue to win new customers and expand our content. We have partnered with Vodafone to launch the UK’s first WiFi 6E platform. We have launched a solution for Fi 6 hotspots.”

Skyworks also enables the deployment of O-RAN (Open Radio Access Network) and delivers record quarterly results in the high-growth automotive business niche. For example, the O-RAN market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 42% until 2030. Meanwhile, according to Mordor Intelligence, the demand for connected cars will grow by 19% per year until 2027.

These catalysts explain why Skyworks expects its broad commercial segment of the market “to be a major driver in FY23 and beyond.”

The mobile business was not in its best last quarter
Skyworks’ mobile business generated approximately $907 million in revenue last quarter (this is total revenue minus $500 million from the broader market business). By comparison, 71% of Skyworks’ $1.31 billion in revenue last year came from its mobile business, worth nearly $931 million.

Thus, the company’s mobile business, which generates most of its revenue, declined year-over-year in the most recent quarter. This is not surprising given that smartphone sales have been declining for the past five quarters. Skyworks considers Apple its biggest client, with the smartphone giant generating 58% of its revenue last year.

Last quarter, Apple shipped 48.5 million smartphones, 6.4% more than last year. However, the overall smartphone market was down 9% year-over-year. And now things could get even worse for Skyworks.

All of this explains why Skyworks management is targeting a sharp drop in sales and profits. The chipmaker expects revenue of $1.3 billion to $1.35 billion and adjusted earnings of $2.59 per share in the first quarter of fiscal 2023. These numbers show double-digit declines in both revenue and earnings compared to the last year.

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Tech Shares May Weigh On Taiwan Stock Market

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Tech Shares May Weigh On Taiwan Stock Market

(RTTNews) – The Taiwanese stock market fell nearly 230 points (1.7%) on Tuesday after falling for two days. The Taiwan Stock Exchange is currently just above the 14,700 plateau, but selling pressure is likely to resume on Wednesday.

The global outlook for Asian markets is mixed, with little change ahead of major economic events that could affect the interest rate outlook. European and US markets were mixed and flat, followed by Asian equities.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange closed sharply higher on Tuesday after gains in financial, technology and cement stocks.

The index closed at 14,709.64, up 152.77 points (1.05%) after trading between 14,449.05 and 14,716.58.
Among assets, Cathay Financial was up 3.45%, Mega Financial was up 1.78%, CTBC Financial was up 2.93%, Fubon Financial was up 2.94%, First Financial was up 1.35%, E Sun Financial rose 1.66%, Taiwanese semiconductor company rose 1.35% and United Microelectronics rose 1.35%. Corporation and Catcher Technology rose 0.56%, Largan Precision shed 0.22%, MediaTek rose 1.42%, Delta Electronics rose 1.71%, Novatek Microelectronics rose 0.51%, China Steel rose 0.51%. 2.87%, Formosa Plastics shed 0.22%, Nan Ya Plastics rose 0.92%, Asia cement rose 1.48%, Taiwanese cement rose 1.67%, and Hon Hai Precision remained unchanged.

Wall Street’s lead indicates a slight negative bias as the leading average rose, then fell in the middle of the session, but then rose to end the mix almost unchanged.

The Dow rose 3.07 points (0.01%) to close at 33,852.53, while the NASDAQ fell 65.72 points (0.59%) to close at 10,983.78, and The S&P 500 fell 6.31 points (0.16%) to 3957.63.

Volatile trading on Wall Street comes amid continued uncertainty about the situation in China following widespread outcry over the country’s Covid restrictions.

Traders may also have been reluctant to make any significant moves ahead of comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell today that could provide further clues about the rate outlook. Unemployment data continues to be released on Friday.

In terms of economic news, the Conference Board released a report showing a moderate decline in US consumer confidence in November.

Crude oil futures ended higher on Tuesday, extending gains from the previous session on hopes that OPEC could cut production to support prices later this week. West Texas intermediate oil futures rose $0.96, or 1.2%, to $78.20 a barrel in January.

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