Bird skulls: Morphological and functional evolution

Bird skulls


We are using a combination of surface and microCT scans to understand how the range of diets and behaviours seen in modern birds is linked to beak and skull shape, and their biomechanical performance. In particular, how have these features changed as birds evolved from large, strong dinosaurian ancestors to the small, lightly-built animals we have today?

Participate by visiting

Finite element model of a Lammergeier vulture

Warm colours indicate areas of high mechanical stress.

Mark My Bird

The scan data is the starting point for detailed computer analysis using geometric morphometrics and finite element modelling. You can participate in this work by visiting (collaboration with University of Sheffield, UK) and helping us to measure the beaks of all of the world’s bird species.

Animation showing the main shape variation in birds of prey.

Full paper available here.

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