Bird skull evolution slowed after the extinction of the dinosaurs

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Image: Phenotypic distinction among each specimen for each landmark in the 11-module dataset and the mean skull form.
For each specimen, the mean landmark configuration is plotted with details colored relative to…
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Credit rating: Felice et al, 2020 (PLOS Biology, CC BY 4.)

From emus to woodpeckers, present day birds show remarkable diversity in skull form and dimension, typically hypothesized to be the result of a sudden hastening of evolution adhering to the mass extinction that killed their non-avian dinosaur cousins at the close of the Cretaceous sixty six million many years in the past. But this is not the situation in accordance to a research by Ryan Nicholas Felice at College College or university London, publishing August eighteen, 2020 in the open up-accessibility journal PLOS Biology. In the most in-depth research nonetheless of fowl skull morphology, Felice and an international team of scientists show that the rate of evolution truly slowed in birds in comparison to non-avian dinosaurs.

The scientists made use of high-dimensional 3D geometric morphometrics to map the form of 354 living and 37 extinct avian and non-avian dinosaurs in unprecedented detail and executed phylogenetic analyses to examination for a change in the speed of evolution right after the origin of birds. They uncovered that all areas of the skull progressed much more speedily in non-avian dinosaurs than in birds, but sure areas showed rapid pulses of evolution in particular lineages.

For example, in non-avian dinosaurs, rapid evolutionary improvements in the jaw joint ended up connected with improvements in diet, although accelerated evolution of the roof of the skull occurred in lineages that sported bony ornaments these as horns or crests. In birds, the most speedily evolving component of the skull was the beak, which the authors attribute to adaptation to unique meals sources and feeding techniques.

The authors say that total slower speed of evolution in birds in comparison to non-avian dinosaurs phone calls into problem a long-standing speculation that the diversity observed in present day birds resulted from rapid evolution as component of an adaptive radiation adhering to the close-Cretaceous extinction occasion.

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Quotation: Felice RN, Watanabe A, Cuff AR, Hanson M, Bhullar B-AS, Rayfield ER, et al. (2020) Decelerated dinosaur skull evolution with the origin of birds. PLoS Biol eighteen(8): e3000801. https://doi.org/ten.1371/journal.pbio.3000801

Funding: This investigation was funded by European Investigation Council grant no. STG-2014-637171 (to A.G.) and SYNTHESYS grant no. FR-TAF-5635 (to R.N.F.). M.A.N.’s work was funded by the Macaulay spouse and children endowment to the AMNH, and NSF DEB-1457181. L.M.W.’s work was funded by NSF IOS-1050154 and IOS-1456503. The funders had no role in research style, facts selection and examination, choice to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing passions exist.

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