Scientists reveal origin for kinetic skulls in early Cretaceous paraves | 10/8/2015 | Staff
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A team of scientists led by Dr. HU Han from University of New England, Australia and Dr. ZHOU Zhonghe from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences reported a new quantitative analysis of early Cretaceous paraves. This research was published in the latest issue of PNAS, in a paper titled "Evolution of the vomer and its implications for cranial kinesis in Paraves."

Birds are the only group of dinosaurs surviving through the end Cretaceous mass extinction. Their evolutionary success has been attributed to many biological adaptations, including cranial kinesis, a special ability to move the rostrum independent of the braincase, which is believed to be associated with feeding mechanisms. The reduced lateral and flexible palatal structures made cranial kinesis possible by transferring force from the quadrate to elevate the upper bill. Thus, mobility of the palate is extremely important.

Relatives - Birds - Skulls - Kinesis - Feature

The closest dinosaurian relatives of birds are thought to have rigid skulls with no cranial kinesis. Although this feature has been the subject of great interest since first described, its origin and early evolution remains poorly understood in previous studies, largely due to the extremely rare preservation of the palate among early birds.

The researchers made 3-D reconstructions of the vomers (one of the palatal elements) of an Early Cretaceous bird Sapeornis, and a troodontid Sinovenator,...
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