A new paper:
Birds have lost and modified the musculature joining the pectoral girdle to the skull and hyoid, called the pectoral extrinsic appendicular and infrahyoid musculature. These muscles include the levator scapulae, sternomandibularis, sternohyoideus, episternocleidomastoideus, trapezius, and omohyoideus. As nonâavian theropod dinosaurs are the closest relatives to birds, it is worth investigating what conditions they may have exhibited to learn when and how these muscles were lost or modified. Using extant phylogenetic bracketing, osteological correlates and nonâosteological influences of these muscles are identified and discussed. Compsognathids and basal Maniraptoriformes were found to have been the likeliest transition points of a derived avian condition of losing or modifying these muscles. Increasing needs to control the feather tracts of the neck and shoulder, for insulation, display, or tightening/readjustment of the skin after dynamic neck movements may have been the selective force that drove some of these muscles to be modified into dermoâosseous muscles. The loss and modification of shoulder protractors created a more immobile girdle that would later be advantageous for flight in birds. The loss of the infrahyoid muscles freed the hyolarynx, trachea, and esophagus which may have aided in vocal tract filtering.