Interesting Esoterica

Avian egg shape: Form, function, and evolution

Article by Mary Caswell Stoddard and Ee Hou Yong and Derya Akkaynak and Catherine Sheard and Joseph A. Tobias and L. Mahadevan
  • Published in 2017
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Avian egg shape is generally explained as an adaptation to life history, yet we currently lack a global synthesis of how egg-shape differences arise and evolve. Here, we apply morphometric, mechanistic, and macroevolutionary analyses to the egg shapes of 1400 bird species. We characterize egg-shape diversity in terms of two biologically relevant variables, asymmetry and ellipticity, allowing us to quantify the observed morphologies in a two-dimensional morphospace. We then propose a simple mechanical model that explains the observed egg-shape diversity based on geometric and material properties of the egg membrane. Finally, using phylogenetic models, we show that egg shape correlates with flight ability on broad taxonomic scales, suggesting that adaptations for flight may have been critical drivers of egg-shape variation in birds.

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doi
10.1126/science.aaj1945

BibTeX entry

@article{AvianeggshapeFormfunctionandevolution,
	title = {Avian egg shape: Form, function, and evolution},
	abstract = {Avian egg shape is generally explained as an adaptation to life history, yet we currently lack a global synthesis of how egg-shape differences arise and evolve. Here, we apply morphometric, mechanistic, and macroevolutionary analyses to the egg shapes of 1400 bird species. We characterize egg-shape diversity in terms of two biologically relevant variables, asymmetry and ellipticity, allowing us to quantify the observed morphologies in a two-dimensional morphospace. We then propose a simple mechanical model that explains the observed egg-shape diversity based on geometric and material properties of the egg membrane. Finally, using phylogenetic models, we show that egg shape correlates with flight ability on broad taxonomic scales, suggesting that adaptations for flight may have been critical drivers of egg-shape variation in birds.},
	url = {http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6344/1249 http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6344/1249.full.pdf},
	author = {Mary Caswell Stoddard and Ee Hou Yong and Derya Akkaynak and Catherine Sheard and Joseph A. Tobias and L. Mahadevan},
	comment = {},
	urldate = {2017-07-24},
	year = 2017,
	doi = {10.1126/science.aaj1945},
	collections = {animals}
}