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Disassociated rhamphotheca of fossil bird Confuciusornis informs early beak reconstruction, stress regime, and developmental patterns

Miller, Case Vincent; Pittman, Michael; Kaye, Thomas G.; Wang, Xiaoli; Bright, Jen A.; Zheng, Xiaoting

Authors

Case Vincent Miller

Michael Pittman

Thomas G. Kaye

Xiaoli Wang

Xiaoting Zheng



Abstract

Soft tissue preservation in fossil birds provides a rare window into their anatomy, function, and development. Here, we present an exceptionally-preserved specimen of Confuciusornis which, through Laser-Stimulated Fluorescence imaging, is identified as preserving a disassociated rhamphotheca. Reconstruction of the in vivo position of the rhamphotheca validates the association of the rhamphotheca with two previous confuciusornithid specimens while calling that of a third specimen into question. The ease of dissociation is discussed and proposed with a fourth specimen alongside finite element analysis as evidence for preferential soft-food feeding. However, this proposition remains tentative until there is a better understanding of the functional role of beak attachment in living birds. Differences in post-rostral extent and possibly rhamphotheca curvature between confuciusornithids and modern birds hint at developmental differences between the two. Together, this information provides a wealth of new information regarding the nature of the beak outside crown Aves.

Citation

Miller, C. V., Pittman, M., Kaye, T. G., Wang, X., Bright, J. A., & Zheng, X. (2020). Disassociated rhamphotheca of fossil bird Confuciusornis informs early beak reconstruction, stress regime, and developmental patterns. Communications Biology, 3(1), https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-01252-1

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 24, 2020
Online Publication Date Sep 21, 2020
Publication Date 2020-12
Deposit Date Sep 28, 2020
Publicly Available Date Sep 30, 2020
Journal Communications Biology
Print ISSN 2399-3642
Electronic ISSN 2399-3642
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Issue 1
Article Number 519
DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-01252-1
Keywords Biomechanics; Evolution; Evolutionary developmental biology; Palaeontology; Zoology
Public URL https://hull-repository.worktribe.com/output/3618396
Publisher URL https://www.nature.com/articles/s42003-020-01252-1
Additional Information Received: 3 March 2020; Accepted: 24 August 2020; First Online: 21 September 2020; : The authors declare no competing interests.

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https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Copyright Statement
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.





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