New research disproves common assumption on cranial joints of alligators, birds, dinosaurs
Paleontologists have long assumed that the shape of joints in the skulls of dinosaurs, and their closest modern relatives alligators and birds, reveals how much movement are allowed in their skulls. Researchers from the University of Missouri School Of Medicine recently discovered that although alligators, birds and dinosaurs have a similar skull-joint shape, it no longer can be assumed that this lone fact can determine movement.
Although crocodilians' skulls have evolved to bite down with immense pressure, they still have not managed to lose these joints that, according to Holliday, are vestiges of joints found in the ancestors of birds and crocodiles and are likely useless. On the other hand, the same joints in birds evolved new cartilages and cavities, and increased mobility, an important adaptation for bird feeding behavior and diversity.
The study is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
Source: University of Missouri-Columbia [March 27, 2017]