Does mutual sexual selection explain the evolution of head crests in pterosaurs and dinosaurs?
Article first published online: 19 DEC 2011
© 2011 The Authors, Lethaia © 2011 The Lethaia Foundation
Volume 45, Issue 2, pages 139–156, April 2012
How to Cite
HONE, D. W.E., NAISH, D. and CUTHILL, I. C. (2012), Does mutual sexual selection explain the evolution of head crests in pterosaurs and dinosaurs?. Lethaia, 45: 139–156. doi: 10.1111/j.1502-3931.2011.00300.x
- Issue published online: 13 MAR 2012
- Article first published online: 19 DEC 2011
Hone, D.W.E., Naish, D. & Cuthill, I.C. 2011: Does mutual sexual selection explain the evolution of head crests in pterosaurs and dinosaurs? Lethaia, Vol. 45, pp. 139–156.
Cranial ornamentation is widespread throughout the extinct non-avialian Ornithodira, being present throughout Pterosauria, Ornithischia and Saurischia. Ornaments take many forms, and can be composed of at least a dozen different skull bones, indicating multiple origins. Many of these crests serve no clear survival function and it has been suggested that their primary use was for species recognition or sexual display. The distribution within Ornithodira and the form and position of these crests suggest sexual selection as a key factor, although the role of the latter has often been rejected on the grounds of an apparent lack of sexual dimorphism in many species. Surprisingly, the phenomenon of mutual sexual selection – where both males and females are ornamented and both select mates – has been ignored in research on fossil ornithodirans, despite a rich history of research and frequent expression in modern birds. Here, we review the available evidence for the functions of ornithodiran cranial crests and conclude that mutual sexual selection presents a valid hypothesis for their presence and distribution. The integration of mutual sexual selection into future studies is critical to our understanding of ornithodiran ecology, evolution and particularly questions regarding sexual dimorphism. □Behaviour, Dinosauria, ornaments, Pterosauria, sexual selection.