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We use a tetrahedral color space to describe and analyze male plumage color variation and evolution in a clade of New World buntings--Cyanocompsa and Passerina (Aves: Cardinalidae). The Goldsmith color space models the relative stimulation of the four retinal cones, using the integrals of the product of plumage reflectance spectra and cone sensitivity(More)
For as long as dinosaurs have been known to exist, there has been speculation about their appearance. Fossil feathers can preserve the morphology of color-imparting melanosomes, which allow color patterns in feathered dinosaurs to be reconstructed. Here, we have mapped feather color patterns in a Late Jurassic basal paravian theropod dinosaur. Quantitative(More)
Basic kinematic and detailed physical mechanisms of avian, non-vocal sound production are both unknown. Here, for the first time, field-generated high-speed video recordings and acoustic analyses are used to test numerous competing hypotheses of the kinematics underlying sonations, or non-vocal communicative sounds, produced by two genera of Pipridae,(More)
Although reconstruction of the phylogeny of living birds has progressed tremendously in the last decade, the evolutionary history of Neoaves--a clade that encompasses nearly all living bird species--remains the greatest unresolved challenge in dinosaur systematics. Here we investigate avian phylogeny with an unprecedented scale of data: >390,000 bases of(More)
Most birds have simple genitalia; males lack external genitalia and females have simple vaginas. However, male waterfowl have a phallus whose length (1.5->40 cm) and morphological elaborations vary among species and are positively correlated with the frequency of forced extra-pair copulations among waterfowl species. Here we report morphological complexity(More)
Vocal learning is thought to have evolved in three clades of birds (parrots, hummingbirds, and oscine passerines), and three clades of mammals (whales, bats, and primates). Behavioural data indicate that, unlike other suboscine passerines, the three-wattled bellbird Procnias tricarunculata (Cotingidae) is capable of vocal learning. Procnias tricarunculata(More)
The evolutionary origin of feathers has long been obscured because no morphological antecedents were known to the earliest, structurally modern feathers of Archaeopteryx. It has been proposed that the filamentous integumental appendages on several theropod dinosaurs are primitive feathers; but the homology between these filamentous structures and feathers(More)
Feathers are complex integumentary appendages of birds and some other theropod dinosaurs. They are frequently coloured and function in camouflage and display. Previous investigations have concluded that fossil feathers are preserved as carbonized traces composed of feather-degrading bacteria. Here, an investigation of a colour-banded feather from the Lower(More)
Tonal, non-vocal sounds are widespread in both ordinary bird flight and communication displays. We hypothesized these sounds are attributable to an aerodynamic mechanism intrinsic to flight feathers: aeroelastic flutter. Individual wing and tail feathers from 35 taxa (from 13 families) that produce tonal flight sounds were tested in a wind tunnel. In the(More)
Plumage is a complex component of the avian phenotype. The plumage of an individual is composed of numerous hierarchically arranged developmental and morphological modules. We present a hierarchical model of plumage that provides an intellectual framework for understanding the development and evolution of feathers. Independence, covariation, and interaction(More)