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Tooth crown shape in Mesozoic birds (1 Viewer)

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Ya-Chun Zhou, Corwin Sullivan, Zhong-He Zou & Fu-Cheng Zhang, 2021

Evolution of tooth crown shape in Mesozoic birds, and its adaptive significance with respect to diet

Palaeoworld. in press.
doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palwor.2020.12.008


Both the evolution of tooth morphology and the relationship between dental features and diet in toothed birds have long been studied. Here we quantify variation in tooth crown shape in 28 key Mesozoic bird species, and examine differences in dental morphology among birds belonging to different taxonomic groupings and inferred to have had different diets. Using geometric morphometric methods (GMM) and phylogenetic comparative methods (PCM), we found few clear differences in tooth crown shape between different taxonomic and ecological categories, and our analysis provides little support for many dietary inferences drawn in previous studies. However, the Solnhofen Archaeopteryx, Jeholornis, Protopteryx, Pengornis, Longipteryx, Tianyuornis, Mengciusornis, Ichthyornis and Hesperornis all were found to possess relatively specialized tooth crown shapes, perhaps reflecting specialized diets such as insectivory, granivory, piscivory and consumption of soft-shelled arthropods. Similarity in tooth crown shape across many Mesozoic birds may indicate the lack of dietary specialization, and the association between tooth form and diet may have been weakened in any case by ‘functional replacement’ of the dentition by a horny beak and, in many cases, gastroliths.


Mesozoic birds
tooth shape
feeding behavior
geometric morphometric methods
phylogenetic comparative methods


Last edited:

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Fig. 1. Semilandmarks defining the margins of a tooth crown of Mesozoic birds.



  • mesizoische tand.jpg
    mesizoische tand.jpg
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