Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Smells Like Chicken

Evolution of olfaction in non-avian theropod dinosaurs and birds. 2011. D. Zelenitsky, et al. Proc. Roy. Soc. B, on-line April 13.

New research suggests that millions of years ago, birds' sense of smell improved during the dinosaur-bird transition, keeping pace with changes in their vision and balance.
The team was able to compare some ancient and modern-day animals under study. They discovered that ancient birds, like Archaeopteryx, had a sense of smell similar to pigeons.

“Our discovery that small Velociraptor-like dinosaurs, such as Bambiraptor, had a sense of smell as developed as these birds suggests that smell may have played an important role while these dinosaurs hunted for food.”

The combination of a keener sense of smell, good vision and coordination in early modern-day birds have may proved advantageous to orient themselves when flying and to look for food, mates, or suitable habitats. link