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Why many dinosaurs developed beaks


Not just to reduce weight.

Erlikosaurus andrewsi/Stephan Lautenschlager

From ScienceDaily:

This new study reveals that keratinous beaks played an important role in stabilizing the skeletal structure during feeding, making the skull less susceptible to bending and deformation.

Lead author Dr Stephan Lautenschlager of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences said: “It has classically been assumed that beaks evolved to replace teeth and thus save weight, as a requirement for the evolution of flight. Our results, however, indicate that keratin beaks were in fact beneficial to enhance the stability of the skull during biting and feeding.”


Co-author Lawrence Witmer, Chang Professor of Paleontology at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine said: “Beaks evolved several times during the transitions from dinosaurs to modern birds, usually accompanied by the partial or complete loss of teeth and our study now shows that keratin-covered beaks represent a functional innovation during dinosaur evolution.”

File under: Convergent evolution

selvaRajan, It sounds like a fine biological analysis. The authors are describing the stabilizing benefits of a complete beak structure, and as far as I can tell they are just baldly asserting that it evolved, as usual. That's why I asked, why would 1%,2%,5%,10%,etc. of the originating intermediate beak structure have enough of a fitness advantage to be selected for. Any guesses? lifepsy
lifepsy, It is an innocuous study! There is no ulterior motive! It is a study to prove beaks improve cranial stability in non-avian dinosaurs. Finite Element analysis was done on model derived from original sample's CT Scan of skull and lower jaw of E.andrewsi .Von Mises stress and displacement distribution when the jaw is subjected to different bite position were analyzed. selvaRajan
And why are the 1%, 2%, 5%, 10% beak intermediates being selected again? Or is beak acquisition supposed to be a saltation? lifepsy

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