width=285Scientists have created the first blueprint of a songbird genome from a zebra finch that could reveal evolutionary secrets of vocal learning in animals, including that of humans.

The researchers said that this will aid their study of the genetics of speech disorders such as autism, stuttering and Parkinson's disease.

Dr Wesley Warren, with his international team from the Washington University in St. Louis, US, has led the study.

The zebra finch is a beautiful model for vocal learning. Dr Warren said.

He said to BBC news that earlier research has shown that certain zebra finches genes in the brain were activated when male birds hear a familiar song.

We have looked for the position of these genes in the bird's genome, and then looked for its equivalent in the chicken genome, he explained.

The chicken is the only other bird to have its genome fully sequenced.

And by comparing them, the scientists were able to recognize the genes that were most important in vocalization and song learning.