CORDIS
EU research results

CORDIS

English EN

Using avian bone histology to trace back the evolution of flight-related locomotor ontogeny in the dinosaur–bird transition

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 882758

Status

Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    4 January 2021

  • End date

    3 January 2023

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.3.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 212 933,76

  • EU contribution

    € 212 933,76

Coordinated by:

THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM

United Kingdom

Objective

The evolutionary success of the most diverse group of land vertebrates, birds, largely lies in their ability to fly. Spectacular fossils have demonstrated that birds are paravian dinosaurs; the only representatives to survive the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. Extinct paravians close to the dinosaur–bird transition show diverse skeletal and plumage morphologies, suggesting substantial variability in aerial skills. However, locomotor skills (e.g. running, flying) and related morphologies can change drastically through ontogeny in modern birds depending on the developmental strategy followed along the precocial (functional maturity at hatching, including various degrees of locomotor capability) to altricial (functional immaturity with embryo-like hatchlings) spectrum. This ontogenetic aspect of flight remains elusive in extinct bird-like dinosaurs, greatly encumbering research on flight origins. We aim to explore for the first time how bone tissue reflects precocial and altricial locomotor development, including the ontogenetic onset of powered flight, by studying limb bone shafts of growth series of modern birds, and apply these findings to bird-like dinosaurs. We will test correlation in a phylogenetic context between quantified limb bone histological traits and different developmental strategies in birds using thin sections and µCT data. These will provide a firm baseline for fossil inferences using the same approach and will generate a step-change in understanding the ontogenetic factor in the evolution of flight through the dinosaur to bird transition. The experienced researcher and hosts will bring together and integrate respective expertise in biology and palaeontology to deliver this highly innovative, timely, and multidisciplinary project that will broaden our view on how birds have mastered the skies for the last 150 million years.
Leaflet | Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, Credit: EC-GISCO, © EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries

Coordinator

THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM

Address

Edgbaston
B15 2tt Birmingham

United Kingdom

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 212 933,76

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 882758

Status

Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    4 January 2021

  • End date

    3 January 2023

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.3.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 212 933,76

  • EU contribution

    € 212 933,76

Coordinated by:

THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM

United Kingdom