STL Science Center

STL Science Center

16 May 2016

Birds in Motion

Yesterday I only shared a very short clip of Andalgalornis that was much more general and discussed terror birds as a group rather than focusing only on what we know of Andalgalornis. There are videos that discuss only this specific bird rather than drawing from many birds to generalize behavior or even anatomy. The generalizations are important, but seeing the actual actions or anatomy of any given taxon are important for understanding what makes this animal Andalgalornis. As a group (i.e. humans) one of our favorite things to see is another animal, especially fossil animals, biting things. That is certainly a part of the reason (not the whole reason I can assure everyone) that this video from the Witmer Lab was made and posted.
Biting and the actions that contribute to biting are intriguing to myself and many other people. Tracing the evolutionary history of these actions is certainly aided by viewing 3D animations of the animals that we are interested in. Here, for instance, we can see the movements, or lack of movements, in the skull of Andalgalornis. We see a similar system of akinesis in crocodilians but in extant birds there is a wide variety of kinetic capabilities including hypermobility. Seeing a bird built more like a crocodile than a parrot is quite unique.

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