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Re: Question: Why did birds lose their teeth?
I do not claim this is testable (I have thought of one possible way, I will
mention it later), but a plausible selective path to tooth loss in birds is
Think about this next time you are flossing -- small bipeds that cannot use
their hands to clear stuck/snagged material from their mouths have a problem --
if they are volant, the problem is exacerbated.
Fully optimizing wings (in birds) for flight logically and apparently demands
losing the claws -- and a toothy bird is just that more likely to die from
something a little too big to swallow, not to mention catching something too
large in the first place!
Perhaps there is a clear pattern in the data of 'first go the claws, then the
On Mon, Mar 10, 2014 6:27 PM EDT Dann Pigdon wrote:
>On Tue, Mar 11th, 2014 at 1:16 AM, Martin Baeker <email@example.com>
>> I once learned that losing teeth was a weight-saving measure and thus
>> a flight adaptation. There is this reference stating this as a possibility
>> However, I seem to remember that there was some study showing that
>> birds actually do not lose signifcant weight by replacing teeth with
>> beaks - if anybody has a reference on this, I'd be grateful.
>There may not have been a single source of selective pressure for loss of
>teeth. A whole lot of
>separate minor advantages may well have added up.
>Constantly shedding and replacing teeth might have been an expensive use of
>instance, that could otherwise be used to stengthen bones against the rigours
>of flight, or for the
>production of hard-shelled eggs that were larger relative to body weight than
>those of non-volant
>The weight of the teeth themselves may not have been the only weight-saving
>The lack of teeth might have allowed the jaw bones to become more slender,
>making it possible to
>make do with a much more light-weight skull. The jaw bones of tooth-bearing
>generally the toughest bones in the body (which is why jaw bones are so common
>in the fossil
>record). In some modern birds, the mandibles are little more than whispy
>splints of bone once the
>beak has been removed.
>Spatial Data Analyst Australian Dinosaurs
>Melbourne, Australia http://home.alphalink.com.au/~dannj