Scientists claim that birds may have woken up dinosaurs with their whistle or quack. After conducting a study, scientists have discovered that the oldest fossil of a bird showed the evolution of the vocal organ, the syrinx. The bird known as Vegavis iaai lived about 68 million years ago in the area known today as Antarctica. This bird was thought to be similar to nowadays ducks and swans.
Julia Clarke, who was a professor of the University of Texas at Austin, has claimed that there was no previous study which analyzed the sounds or songs produced by the birds. A lot of scientists have examined the evolution of the wings, but they have never tried to acquire more information about the bird’s song and their vocal organ.
Clarke together with her team evaluated the bird’s fossil using X-rays similar to the CT scans from the hospital, called micro-CT. Then, they have developed a 3D model of the vocal apparatus of the bird. They have also used a revolutionary kind of imaging which determined data about the soft tissue and thus making possible the comparison with other 12 species of birds which live today.
The team of specialists has created the replica of the bird’s syrinx. After the reconstruction, Professor Clarke has stated that the vocal apparatus seemed able to utter noises similar to whistles and honks. If they want to gather more details about the sounds produced by ancient birds, experts will have to build more models and acquire more data about the syrinx of nowadays birds.
Scientists believe that the vocal apparatus developed in birds’ bodies long after they grew their wings and started flying. Patrick O’Connor, who is a professor at Ohio University, argued that there is no palpable or attested evidence that this little bone known as syrinx had also existed in the structure of dinosaurs’ body. As far as we are aware, birds were thought to have dinosaur ancestors. Since dinosaur’s fossil do not display this vocal apparatus, is it possible for birds to have developed it? Experts also wonder if a dinosaur could produce sounds, like roars.
Professor O’Connor claimed that the syrinx might constitute a sign of late evolution in birds’ structure. Perhaps, along with the way, they managed to develop a part of the brain responsible for the production of the sounds. There are still a lot of questions which did not receive an answer yet.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia