Scientists discover birds lost their teeth 116 million years ago

December 15, 2014 1:28 PM

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All living birds have something in common–they have no teeth. That wasn’t always the case, though. Evolutionary biologists have long struggled to determine how the lack of choppers came about, and new genetic data may have finally provided the answer. According to a massive 23-paper publication, the crucial moment came about 116 million years ago when a common ancestor of all birds developed a toothless beak.

There are roughly 10,000 species of birds spread across dozens of different orders, and they have wildly different body designs. For example, penguins and pigeons don’t have much in common except their total lack of teeth. Scientists saw two possible ways this could have happened. It could be an exa...

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