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New Paper: A fossil brain from the Cretaceous of European Russia and avian sensory evolution

A fossil brain from the Cretaceous of European Russia and avian
sensory evolution

Evgeny N. Kurochkin AFF1, Gareth J. Dyke AFF2, Sergei V. Saveliev
AFF3, Evgeny M. Pervushov AFF4, Evgeny V. Popov AFF4

AFF1  Paleontological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow
GSP-7 117997, Russia
AFF2  School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College
Dublin, Belfield Dublin 4, Republic of Ireland
AFF3  Scientific Research Institute of Human Morphology of Russian
Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow 117418, Russia
AFF4 Geological Faculty, Saratov State University, Saratov 410012, Russia


Fossils preserving traces of soft anatomy are rare in the fossil
record; even rarer is evidence bearing on the size and shape of sense
organs that provide us with insights into mode of life. Here, we
describe unique fossil preservation of an avian brain from the
Volgograd region of European Russia. The brain of this Melovatka bird
is similar in shape and morphology to those of known fossil
ornithurines (the lineage that includes living birds), such as the
marine diving birds Hesperornis and Enaliornis, but documents a new
stage in avian sensory evolution: acute nocturnal vision coupled with
well-developed hearing and smell, developed by the Late Cretaceous (ca
90Myr ago). This fossil also provides insights into previous
'bird-like' brain reconstructions for the most basal avian
Archaeopteryx—reduction of olfactory lobes (sense of smell) and
enlargement of the hindbrain (cerebellum) occurred subsequent to
Archaeopteryx in avian evolution, closer to the ornithurine lineage
that comprises living birds. The Melovatka bird also suggests that
brain enlargement in early avians was not correlated with the
evolution of powered flight.


Michael D. Barton Bozeman, MT MSU Bozeman, History-SETS Major darwinsbulldog@gmail.com ----------------------------------------------------- http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=darwinmatters http://public.fotki.com/darwinsbulldog/