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Structure and function of the cassowary's casque and its implications for cassowary history, biology and evolution

Structure and function of the cassowary's casque and its implications for cassowary history, biology and evolution
Structure and function of the cassowary's casque and its implications for cassowary history, biology and evolution
Cassowaries (Casuarius) possess a cranial casque, sheathed by keratin and composed of modified cranial bones. We combine data and hypotheses on three areas of cassowary research. First, we present novel observations on casque anatomy. The bony core is fragile, incorporating a mass of trabeculae anteriorly and an empty space posteriorly. Secondly, we use these observations to evaluate hypotheses of casque function. Implications that the casque evolved within the context of activities involving percussive actions are unlikely and observations that might support these hypotheses are absent. It is most likely that the casque serves a sociosexual role and functions in visual and acoustic display. The similarity in casque form between males and females, combined with male parental investment, makes it plausible that the extravagant structures present in cassowaries evolved within the context of mutual sexual selection. Thirdly, we combine morphological, molecular and geological evidence to provide a new phylogenetic history for cassowaries. We suggest that cassowaries invaded New Guinea in at least two waves and provisionally regard crown–cassowaries as a geologically young, post-Pliocene clade. We provide these hypotheses as areas requiring discussion and urge other workers to test our ideas with new data on cassowary anatomy, behaviour and genetics.
cassowaries, Casuarius, casques, birds, New Guinea
0891-2963
507-518
Naish, Darren
6cd448f6-99cc-4c45-93d1-bdd24ee3d281
Perron, Richard
f1d84542-d3d4-4ea7-9829-1ae9c4a7b6ff
Naish, Darren
6cd448f6-99cc-4c45-93d1-bdd24ee3d281
Perron, Richard
f1d84542-d3d4-4ea7-9829-1ae9c4a7b6ff

Naish, Darren and Perron, Richard (2014) Structure and function of the cassowary's casque and its implications for cassowary history, biology and evolution. Historical Biology, 28 (4), 507-518. (doi:10.1080/08912963.2014.985669).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Cassowaries (Casuarius) possess a cranial casque, sheathed by keratin and composed of modified cranial bones. We combine data and hypotheses on three areas of cassowary research. First, we present novel observations on casque anatomy. The bony core is fragile, incorporating a mass of trabeculae anteriorly and an empty space posteriorly. Secondly, we use these observations to evaluate hypotheses of casque function. Implications that the casque evolved within the context of activities involving percussive actions are unlikely and observations that might support these hypotheses are absent. It is most likely that the casque serves a sociosexual role and functions in visual and acoustic display. The similarity in casque form between males and females, combined with male parental investment, makes it plausible that the extravagant structures present in cassowaries evolved within the context of mutual sexual selection. Thirdly, we combine morphological, molecular and geological evidence to provide a new phylogenetic history for cassowaries. We suggest that cassowaries invaded New Guinea in at least two waves and provisionally regard crown–cassowaries as a geologically young, post-Pliocene clade. We provide these hypotheses as areas requiring discussion and urge other workers to test our ideas with new data on cassowary anatomy, behaviour and genetics.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 4 November 2014
Published date: 27 November 2014
Keywords: cassowaries, Casuarius, casques, birds, New Guinea
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 390937
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/390937
ISSN: 0891-2963
PURE UUID: 0353f990-6fd2-49f1-9f8d-8f88fa53e8f4

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 07 Apr 2016 09:25
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 20:38

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