Diet Shaped the Skulls of Humans and Dinosaurs •

According to a fascinating new study, eating habits sculpt the bones of our heads. For more than a century and a half, scientists have been intrigued by a peculiar feature shared across the skulls of terrestrial vertebrates. From the majestic dinosaurs of the past to humans today, there is a remarkable gap in the temple area.

A collaborative effort between researchers from University of Tübingen And Ruhr University Bochum This mystery has been shed light. Research explains how eating behaviors affect our anatomical structure.

A Gap in Knowledge: The Temple Mystery

An apparent opening in the temple in the skulls of terrestrial vertebrates has fascinated scientists for decades. In reptiles, this feature is often manifested as a pair of gaps, prompting questions about their origin and significance.

The study, led by a dedicated team from Tübingen and Bochum, provides a compelling explanation. Researchers have linked the forces exerted during feeding to the evolution of these skeletal structures.

Revealing the appearance of the skull shape

Dr. Ingmar Wernberg of the University of Tübingen, a key figure in the study, emphasized the variety of skull and bone patterns noted by the scientists. Nevertheless, the origin of temple bars and openings and their impact on understanding the biology and relationships of vertebrates remained unclear until now.

Ruhr University Bochum Professor Holger Breishoft, renowned for his contributions to functional morphology, introduced a fundamental principle underlying the study's hypothesis.

Professor Breishoft explained that bone mass forms in areas subjected to compressive stresses. In addition, he emphasized the need for mechanical rest to prevent the formation of pseudarthrosis, or false joints.

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Evolutionary influence of food

The experts studied a variety of fossil reptiles, including dinosaurs, and eventually compared the skulls of land vertebrates over millions of years of evolution.

The analysis revealed a fascinating feature of human anatomy: a substantial temporal opening above the cheekbone. This feature allows the jaw muscle to attach to the lower jaw, creating a passageway during chewing.

Following this finding, the team observed that biting hard at the front of the jaw, possibly aided by the teeth, creates considerable tension that spreads from above the eyes toward the neck. This tension triggers bone braces to form in the temple area.

Cranial features and feeding habits

Additionally, reptiles exhibit an additional cranial feature related to their feeding habits. Due to their propensity to bite at the back of the jaw, they use a lot of bite force. This increased force is made possible by a shorter leverage distance from the jaw joint.

According to Wernberg, such action induces a compressive stress behind the eye that requires a bony bridge. When it cuts from a front bite with upward pressure, the forces converge somewhat. This interaction leads to the formation of the second zygomatic arch.

A structural symphony

Preuschoft's earlier research on the effect of these forces on the skulls of modern animals laid the groundwork with experiments on fracture thresholds. This fundamental work allowed us to apply these insights to vertebrate evolutionary history.

As a result, the study reveals that moving prey or tearing leaves introduces additional lateral shear forces, causing further temple changes. Jaw muscles play an important role in stabilizing the skull. They transfer these forces back to the teeth, preventing potential fractures.

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Evolutionary Intelligence: Feeding the Future of Paleontology

This study represents a significant advance. The study advances our understanding of how diet has shaped the skulls of terrestrial vertebrates over millions of years.

By linking feeding behaviors to evolutionary changes in skull morphology, the research provides a new perspective on the complex relationship between form, function and evolution. This, in turn, paves the way for more accurate reconstructions of the lifestyles of extinct animals.

In essence, the study by a team from the University of Tübingen and Ruhr University Bochum not only solves a long-standing scientific puzzle, but also underlines the profound influence of diet on the evolution of terrestrial vertebrates.

As we continue to delve deeper into our planet's history, discoveries like these remind us of the complex interactions that bind all forms of life.

The study is published in the journal Anatomical registration.


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