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Toothed Birds
By Qilong   |   Watch
168 15 5K (3 Today)
Published: October 28, 2014
Over the last 100 odd years, the evolution of birds was marked by the eventual loss of all teeth. How and why this happened is still being discovered. In the process, however, some birds have developed unusual tooth-like serrated jaws, and the functions of these are peculiar to the birds in question. Toucans, hummingbirds, mergansers, even some raptorial birds such as osprey, and some extinct birds have developed large toothy projections, but most of these birds lack bony parts. Some that do, such as mergansers, an extinct group of ducks from the Pacific called moa-nalos, and the incredible pelagnornithid "pseudontorns" have remarkable bony projections, the function of which in some are unknown due to their disappearance. More here: qilong.wordpress.com/2014/10/2…

Shown are:
Top - Pelagornis sandersi, the largest soaring bird known, and second largest flying bird after Argentavis</i>.
Middle - Hesperornis regalis, a diving and flightless bird once considered a relative of loons and grebes. Naturally, bore teeth in its jaws, these are shown covered up with featherless soft-tissue.
Bottom - Mergus merganser, specifically a male red-breasted merganser.
Image size
5100x4720px 7.01 MB
Comments15
anonymous's avatar
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WolfAkita-Samurai's avatar
WolfAkita-SamuraiHobbyist Interface Designer
awesome!!
PoshPegasus's avatar
The interior of geese's mouths are lined with serrated ridges for grazing. You can really see the dinosaur in them when you notice that as well as the fact that you can feel and see tiny vestigial claws on the wings of goslings.
I actually had a goose that had some sort of mutation that caused those claws to keep growing for a bit. He had two claws on each wing. It was like the old Dino fingers were starting to grow back! The claws weren't all that big, but as he grew you could still see them once he had grown his adult feathers in unlike the rest of my geese who's claws were either no longer visible or no longer even there.
Kazuma27's avatar
Kazuma27Hobbyist General Artist
Hesperornis with "lips"... Neat! :)
MattMart's avatar
MattMartHobbyist Digital Artist
Excellent! Hesperornis looks very natural with lips.
Tsimmu's avatar
TsimmuHobbyist General Artist
I am studying hesperornids right now, and I always struggle to decide how much of a true 'beak' they would have, since it doesn't seem to be conducive to bearing teeth. I would be very interested to see what they're heads would have looked like in life...
Qilong's avatar
Same! This is why I'm offering this speculative reconstruction.
MattMart's avatar
MattMartHobbyist Digital Artist
Here's my take on it, fwiw... dinogoss.blogspot.com/2011/04/…
Tsimmu's avatar
TsimmuHobbyist General Artist
Thank you for that link, it's a very well put point. I agree with that assessment and that is how I have been depicting mine as well. Even when just thinking about how to reconstruct one for the first time before I ever looked up how others had done it, I did not think there would be a reason for the lower jaw to be particularly keratinous and beak-like due to the presence of the teeth.
8bitAviation's avatar
'Over the last 100 odd years'
Did you mean something else when you wrote that?
Qilong's avatar
"N odd years" is an expression meaning "more or less" or "or so." It's not a reference to whether the value is even or odd, just merely not exact. Another meaning for "odd."
8bitAviation's avatar
Whoops...
Thanks for the clarification.
ZoPteryx's avatar
ZoPteryxHobbyist General Artist
Great article and reconstructions!  Is it possible that the evolution of a full beak in more derived birds was partially fueled by the need for a new manipulatory organ (for things other than feeding) after the wings were tied up for flight?  The theory being that the biologically less expensive beak is a more viable option for everyday wear and tear than teeth.
Qilong's avatar
The arms are mostly no longer used for prey capture in basal avialaeans which kept teeth, but have prehensile feet, and in fact, most birds maintain prehensile feet and prey handling with their feet. The reduction seems to be partly fueled by food requirements and how the jaw is used, and may also involve tissue reductions and costs in developing the jaws.
anonymous's avatar
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