STL Science Center

STL Science Center

12 July 2017

Dewlap or Pelican Pouch

The gular flap of Pelecanimimus is a key character, in coordination with the unique dental structure it possesses, of what makes this ornithomimid special. The skull of Pelecanimimus, looking at the fossil material, does not clearly show the gular flap. The images may not clearly show this under normal light, but the illuminated fluorescent lighting that is shown in Perez-Moreno et al. 1994 does show that gular flap quite well. The point of the flap, either way, was under scrutiny for a while, but the general hypothesis that that gular flap was used to corral and capture food items, particularly fish. Possibly the most interesting aspect of this hypothesis is that the teeth are thought to have aided in the capture of fish and the gular flap area was to be used to store the fish. This use would be similar to that of a bird's crop. Pelicans use their gular flap in a similar fashion, but more often than not immediately swallow their meals of fish after grasping the fish using the tips of their bills. The hypothesized feeding habits of Pelecanimimus may have indeed mimicked those of pelicans but with teeth instead of simply the tip of the beak.

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