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Another odd bird found in the Cretaceous adds to the diversity of evolving birds.

Discussion in 'Evolution Vs. Creationism' started by shunyadragon, Nov 26, 2020.

  1. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    Another odd bird found in the Cretaceous adds to the diversity of evolving birds.

    Source: https://phys.org/news/2020-11-bird-tall-sickle-shaped-beak-reveals.html




    Bird with tall, sickle-shaped beak reveals hidden diversity during the age of dinosaurs


    by Ohio University
    [​IMG]Illustration depicting the early bird Falcatakely amidst nonavian dinosaurs and other creatures during the Late Cretaceous in Madagascar. Credit: Mark Witton.
    A Cretaceous-age, crow-sized bird from Madagascar would have sliced its way through the air wielding a large, blade-like beak and offers important new insights on the evolution of face and beak shape in the Mesozoic forerunners of modern birds. An international team of researchers led by Ohio University professor Dr. Patrick O'Connor and Stony Brook University professor Dr. Alan H. Turner announced the discovery today in the journal Nature.

    Birds have played a pivotal role in shaping our understanding of biological evolution. As long ago as the mid-19th Century, Charles Darwin's keen observations on the diversity of beak shape in Galapagos finches influenced his treatise on evolution through natural selection. This fossil bird discovery adds a new twist on the evolution of skulls and beaks in birds and their close relatives, showing that evolution can work through different developmental pathways to achieve similar head shapes in very distantly related animals.

    The bird is named Falcatakely, a combination of Latin and Malagasy words inspired by the small size and the sickle-shaped beak, the latter representing a completely novel face shape in Mesozoic birds. The species is known from a single well-preserved, nearly complete skull, one that was buried in a muddy debris flow around 68 million years ago. Bird skeletons are rare in the fossil record because of their lightweight bones and small size. Bird skulls are an even rarer find. Falcatakely is the second Cretaceous bird species discovered in Madagascar by the National Science Foundation-funded team.

    The delicate specimen remains partially embedded in rock due to the complex array of lightly built bones that make up the skull. Although quite small, with an estimated skull length of only 8.5 cm (~ 3 inches), the exquisite preservation reveals many important details. As one example, a complex series of grooves on the bones making up the side of the face indicate that the animal hosted an expansive keratinous covering, or beak, in life.
    Play.

    "As the face began to emerge from the rock, we knew that it was something very special, if not entirely unique," notes Patrick O'Connor, professor of anatomy and neuroscience at Ohio University and lead author on the study. "Mesozoic birds with such high, long faces are completely unknown, with Falcatakely providing a great opportunity to reconsider ideas around head and beak evolution in the lineage leading to modern birds."

    Falcatakely belongs to an extinct group of birds called Enantiornithes, a group known exclusively from the Cretaceous Period and predominantly from fossils discovered in Asia. "Enantiornithines represent the first great diversification of early birds, occupying ecosystems alongside their non-avian relatives such as Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus," says Turner, an associate professor of anatomical sciences at Stony Brook University and study co-author. "Unlike the first birds, such as Archaeopteryx, with long tails and primitive features in the skull, enantiornithines like Falcatakely would have looked relatively modern."

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  2. danieldemol

    danieldemol Well-Known Member
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  3. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    So, another example of convergent evolution, apparently. Cool.

    By the way, being a chemist I was intrigued by the term enantiornithes, which reminded me of enantiomers. It seems this prefix, signifying "opposite" (in chemistry, used to mean mirror image) was given to this class of birds because the ball and socket joint between wing and shoulder blade is the wrong way round, compared to modern birds. It has a ball on the shoulder blade and the socket on the wing bone. Weird - and a long extinct family. Presumably it is this that leads to the conclusion its head shape is due to convergent evolution.

    But I have to say I do hate the silly journalese in Phys.Org. WTF do they mean by this bird "slicing " its way through the air? Are they suggesting it used its "sickle-shaped beak" (which isn't remotely sickle-shaped, any more than a modern crow's beak is) to fly? Or that the shape of its beak gave it some special aerodynamic properties? Silly and, as so often with this mag, potentially misleading.:rolleyes:

    They'd have done better to explain enantiornithes instead, since that explains the convergent evolution point.
     
    #3 exchemist, Nov 27, 2020
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  4. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    Your replies are very much appreciated with added insight. As far as Phys.org layman writing foolishness I am aware of the problem, and SciTechDaily | Science, Space and Technology News 2020 has a similar problem in some of their articles that I have discussed before here and on another website in the past. Other than that they are good sources, and often footnote the original research.

    An interesting article from scitechdaily that suffered from worse misleading layman writing:

    Decades Old Mystery Solved: A “New Kind of Electrons”

    Can you tell me what is wrong here?
     
    #4 shunyadragon, Nov 27, 2020
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  5. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    We had a thread on that, in which you took part, actually. I made some comments in post 5: Decades Old Mystery Solved: A “New Kind of Electrons”

    What's wrong is there is no new kind of electron. That's nonsense. An electron is an electron. The discovery is not that at all, but the mechanism that allows the material to emit electrons, in spite of emission seeming to be "forbidden" by symmetry selection rules. This seems to be due to a symmetry change from admixing of some σ antibonding character into the delocalised π system of the structure. At least, that is my rather rusty interpretation from the abstract.
     
    #5 exchemist, Nov 27, 2020
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