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. Duck Bill Dinosaur Mystery Finally Solved

Illustration of the duck-billed dinosaur.
by Staff Writers
Mississauga, Ontario (UPI) Jan 24, 2006
A University of Toronto scientist has concluded duck-billed dinosaurs' large, hollow crests had nothing to do with olfaction.

David Evans, a University of Toronto-Mississauga doctoral zoology student, has used a reconstructed brain cavity to rule out one of the most popular theories: that the crests evolved to increase the animal's sense of smell.

"From the brain case, there's no indication that the nerves curled upward into the crest, as we would expect if the crest was used for the sense of smell," Evans says. "It appears the brain changed very little from their non-crested dinosaur ancestors, and the primary region of the sense of smell was located right in front of the eyes - and, coincidentally, that's where it is in birds, crocodiles, mammals and basically all four-legged animals."

Evans research adds weight to two other popular theories: the crests were used to create resonant sounds to attract mates or warn of predators, or they were used for visual display in mate selection or species recognition.

The study appears in the journal Paleobiology.

Source: United Press International

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Mute Swan Population Helps Explain Longstanding Evolutionary Question
Oxford, England (SPX) Jan 25, 2006
In an important new study forthcoming from The American Naturalist, biologists from the University of Oxford tracked a colony of mute swans for more than two decades to explore a longstanding evolutionary question: whether the number of eggs laid by a female bird known as "clutch size" changes in accordance with natural selection.

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