14 June 2024
Cerebellum Growth Key to Bird Flight

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Cerebellum growth key to bird flight. Evolutionary biologists at Johns Hopkins Medicine report they have combined PET scans of modern pigeons along with studies of dinosaur fossils to help answer an enduring question in biology: How did the brains of birds evolve to enable them to fly?

Cerebellum Growth Essential for Bird Flight



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Published on: January 31, 2024 Description:
Scientists pinpoint growth of brain's cerebellum as key to evolution of bird flight
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For centuries, scientists have pondered the question of how birds evolved the ability to fly. Now, a team of evolutionary biologists at Johns Hopkins Medicine may have found the answer: the cerebellum.

Cerebellum Growth and Bird Flight: A Brain Region for Movement and Motor Control

The cerebellum is a brain region responsible for movement and motor control. It is located at the back of the brain, just below the cerebrum. The cerebellum helps us coordinate our movements, maintain our balance, and learn new motor skills.

Cerebellum Growth and Bird Flight: The Cerebellum and Bird Flight

Scientists have long suspected that the cerebellum plays a role in bird flight. After all, birds need to be able to coordinate their wings, tail, and body in order to fly. However, until now, there has been no direct evidence to support this hypothesis.

Cerebellum Growth and Bird Flight: PET Scans and Fossil Studies

To investigate the role of the cerebellum in bird flight, the Johns Hopkins researchers combined PET scans of modern pigeons with studies of dinosaur fossils. They compared the brain activity of pigeons before and after flight and examined the brain regions of birds during flight and braincases of ancient dinosaurs.

Cerebellum Growth and Bird Flight: Increased Cerebellum Activity During Flight

The researchers found that the cerebellum showed a statistically significant increase in activity levels between resting and flying in all eight birds. This suggests that the cerebellum is essential for bird flight.

Cerebellum Growth and Bird Flight: Increased Cerebellum Volume in Birdlike Dinosaurs

The researchers also found that the cerebellum increased in volume in some of the earliest species of maniraptoran dinosaurs, which preceded the first appearances of powered flight among ancient bird relatives, including Archaeopteryx, a winged dinosaur. This suggests that the cerebellum began to develop the necessary conditions for powered flight early in the evolution of birds.

Conclusion

The findings of this study provide strong evidence that the cerebellum played a key role in the evolution of bird flight. The cerebellum’s increased size and activity in birds, along with its role in movement and motor control, suggest that it is essential for birds to be able to fly.

FAQ’s

1. What is the cerebellum?

The cerebellum is a brain region responsible for movement and motor control. It is located at the back of the brain, just below the cerebral cortex.

2. What role does the cerebellum play in bird flight?

The cerebellum helps birds control their feathers, tail, and body in order to fly. It also helps them maintain their balance and learn new motor skills.

3. How did the research team study the role of the cerebellum in bird flight?

The research team combined MRI scans of modern pigeons with studies of dinosaur fossils. They compared the brain activity of pigeons before and after flight and compared the brain regions of birds during flight and braincases of ancient dinosaurs.

4. What did the research team find?

The research team found that the cerebellum showed a significant increase in activity levels between perching and flying in all eight birds. They also found that the cerebellum increased in volume in some of the early species of maniraptoran dinosaurs, which included the first known bird species, Archaeopteryx.

5. What do the findings of this study suggest?

The findings of this study suggest that the cerebellum played a key role in the evolution of bird flight. The cerebellum’s increased size and activity in birds, along with its role in movement and motor control, suggest that it is essential for birds to be able to fly.

Links to additional Resources:

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/ https://www.nationalgeographic.com/ https://www.sciencemag.org/

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Cerebellum, Bird flight, Archaeopteryx

Cerebellum
The cerebellum (pl.: cerebella or cerebellums; Latin for "little brain") is a major feature of the hindbrain of all vertebrates. Although usually smaller than the cerebrum, in some animals such as the mormyrid fishes it may be as large as it or even larger. In humans, the cerebellum plays an...
Read more: Cerebellum

Bird flight
Bird flight is the primary mode of locomotion used by most bird species in which birds take off and fly. Flight assists birds with feeding, breeding, avoiding predators, and migrating. Bird flight is one of the most complex. Each facet of this type of motion, including hovering, taking off, and...
Read more: Bird flight

Archaeopteryx
Archaeopteryx (; lit. 'old-wing'), sometimes referred to by its German name, "Urvogel" (lit. Primeval Bird), is a genus of avian dinosaurs. The name derives from the ancient Greek ἀρχαῖος (archaīos), meaning "ancient", and πτέρυξ (ptéryx), meaning "feather" or "wing". Between the late 19th century and the early 21st century, Archaeopteryx was...
Read more: Archaeopteryx

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