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Why did birds lose their teeth? Was it so they would be lighter in the air? Or are pointy beaks better for worm-eating than the jagged jaws of dinosaur ancestors?
Actually, birds gave up teeth to speed up egg hatching, a research paper published Wednesday suggests, challenging long-held scientific views on the evolution of the toothless beak.
Incubation - Period - Months - Dinosaur - Eggs
Compared to an incubation period of several months for dinosaur eggs, modern birds hatch after just a few days or weeks.
This is because there is no need to wait for the embryo to develop teeth—a process that can consume 60 percent of egg incubation time, said researchers Tzu-Ruei Yang and Martin Sander from the University of Bonn.
Egg - Embryo - Predators - Disasters - Boosts
While in the egg, the embryo is vulnerable to predators and natural disasters, and faster hatching boosts survival odds.
This would be a concern for dinos and birds—all egg layers. In mammals, embryos are protected inside the mother.
Selection - Loss - Birds - Effect - Selection
"We suggest that (evolutionary) selection for tooth loss (in birds) was a side effect of selection for fast embryo growth and thus shorter incubation," Yang and Sander wrote in the journal Biology Letters.
Previous studies had...
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