It’s something you cannot stop but wonder, right? Why do birds have beaks and no teeth? Aren’t they related to dinosaurs, which also had a great set of chompers?
Actually, birds had teeth. Yes, it is quite shocking, but researchers at the University of Bonn found out years ago. But it wasn’t until this year that they found out why bird lost their teeth. So far, researchers Tzu-Ruei Yang and Martin Sander had a theory that proved to be wrong. Now, they have enough proof to back a new idea.
Yang and his colleague Sander published their study today in Biology Letters, explaining what happened to the birds’ teeth.
This study is quite a challenge towards the long known views of scientists on the evolution of birds. Yang and Sander argue that birds gave up their teeth to speed up the hatching of their eggs.
The incubation of dinosaur eggs would last for a few months, while birds can nowadays hatch after a few days or weeks. The speeding process is because the embryo inside the egg doesn’t need to develop teeth. So, the bird will hatch 60% faster, as it has no teeth, said the researchers.
This theory suggests that the bird hatches faster to be less vulnerable to predators or natural factors, increasing the survival rate. It’s a way of adapting to the situation, and a major concern among all dinosaurs or animals that lay eggs. The researchers explain:
“We suggest that (evolutionary) selection for tooth loss (in birds) was a side effect of selection for fast embryo growth and thus shorter incubation.”
Theories Varied Along the Years
Others studies argued that birds lost their teeth to improve their flight, as they descended from avian dinosaurs. However, studies and proof showed that, in the Mesozoic era, non-avian dinosaurs also had toothless beaks.
Then, other scientists theorized that beaks were better for eating bird food. On the other hand, they also discovered that dinosaurs with a different diet also lost their teeth and grew a pointed beak.
After finding out that eggs of dinosaurs that couldn’t fly hatched longer than it was previously thought, Yang and Sander wrote a study last year that led them to a breakthrough. In this year’s study, they explain how faster incubation aided ancient birds and dinosaurs in hatching their eggs and eventually losing their teeth for faster hatching.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere