Lamont BPE Seminar Series | Roger Benson of the AMNH
Vision and hearing specializations of theropod dinosaurs
We know much about the skeletal anatomy of extinct animals such as dinosaurs, and this often allows ecological inferences. However, some important aspects of behaviour are more difficult to infer, such as whether extinct animals were most active in the day or during the night, and how the perceived the world around them. I present a study of skeletal structures related to hearing and vision in living birds and reptiles, and ask to what extent these might indicate the behaviour of predatory dinosaurs. Nocturnality may have been more widespread among extinct dinosaurs than it is among birds today. In particular, we find evidence for specialised nocturnal habits in the enigmatic dinosaur group Alvarezsauroidea, potentially analogous to owls or nightbirds.
Roger Benson has been Curator of Dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History for two months. Before that he was Associate Professor and the Professor of Palaeobiology at University of Oxford. His research spans from field discovery and detailed anatomy of fossils, up to quantitative analysis of the large-scale patterns of evolution that have shaped biodiversity. It incorporates 3D morphometric and comparative study of both living and fossil species, phylogenetic palaeobiology, quantitative studies of form-function relationships, and classic elements of palaeontology/systematics.