Analysis of skull morphometric characters in Owls (Strigiformes)

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Abstract

Owls (Strigiformes) are small to large birds, mostly solitary and nocturnal predators. They can be found all around the Earth except Antarctica and some remote islands. The species differ in size, diet and habitat, which led to different morphological adaptations of the skull. The main differences are in the orbital and the otical region, which are connected to the visual and hearing capabilities. The aim of the recent study is to increase our knowledge of the relationship between skull shape and foraging habits and tried to find those characters that are related to diet. A geometric morphometric approach was used to analyse two-dimensional cranial landmarks. We used principal component (PC) analyses on measurements that may be related to visual and hearing abilities. The PCs are resulted in the robusticity of the skull and the asymmetry of the otical region. There are differences in position and shape of postorbital processes (POP) and tympanic wings (TW). Species with symmetrical skull shape are basically crepuscular or diurnal predators and species with more asymmetrical skulls are mostly nocturnal hunters and have better hearing capabilities.

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