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Egg incubation mechanics of giant birds (1 Viewer)


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Yen, A., H.-J. Wu, P.-Y. Chen, H.-T. Yu, and J.-Y. Juang (2021)
Egg incubation mechanics of giant birds
Biology 10: 738
doi: 10.3390/biology10080738

Finite element analysis (FEA) was used to conduct mechanical analyses on eggshells of giant birds, and relate this to the evolution and reproductive behavior of avian species. We aim to (1) investigate mechanical characteristics of eggshell structures of various ratite species, enabling comparisons between species with or without reversed sexual size dimorphism (RSSD); (2) quantify the safety margin provided by RSSD; (3) determine whether the Williams’ egg can have been incubated by an extinct giant bird Genyornis newtoni; (4) determine the theoretical maximum body mass for contact incubation. We use a dimensionless number C to quantify relative shell stiffness with respect to the egg size, allowing for comparison across wide body masses. We find that RSSD in moas significantly increases the safety margin of contact incubation by the lighter males. However, their safety margins are still smaller than those of the moa species without RSSD. Two different strategies were adopted by giant birds—one is RSSD and thinner shells, represented by some moa species; the other is no RSSD and regular shells, represented by the giant elephant bird. Finally, we predicted that the upper limit of body mass for contact incubation was 2000 kg.

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