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ADVANCED. LEC 04. University of Rio Grande Donald P. Althoff, Ph.D . ORNITHOLOGY. Anatomy & Physiology Part I Reference Chapters 1 & 6. Skeleton Systems NOTABLE CHARACTERISTICS. ______ of adjacent bones (example: furcula … the wishbone)

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University of Rio Grande

Donald P. Althoff, Ph.D.


Anatomy & Physiology

Part I

Reference Chapters 1 & 6

Skeleton systems notable characteristics

  • ______ of adjacent bones (example: furcula… the wishbone)

  • ______: Pneumaticity of many bones resulting in the presence of air cavities

Gary Ritcheson EKU

Skeletal make up
Skeletal Make-up

  • Bones of the______

  • Bones of the ______

  • Bones of the ______

Bones of the limbs wings
Bones of the LIMBS -- Wings

  • Humerus

  • Ulna & Radius

  • “rest”

Bones of the limbs wings con t
Bones of the LIMBS – Wings con’t

  • Humerus is ___________, proportion-wise, than in humans relative to the radius and ulna

  • Humerus has pneumatic cavity which receives an air sac. The air sacs connect directly to the primary and secondary bronchi—assists with air flow through the lungs

  • Ulna & Radius-to-humerus results in ________ as does ulna & radius to carpels

Bones of the limbs wings con t1
Bones of the LIMBS – Wings con’t

  • ________: radiale & ulnare

  • _________________________ (metacarpels)

  • Phalanges—__total a) alular digit (1) b) major digit (2) c) minor digit (1)

Bones of the limbs legs
Bones of the LIMBS – Legs

  • ____as specialized as wings in terms of bones…but still reduced number of bones from humans: __-humans __-birds

  • _______—knee cap is insignificant

  • ______—sits back far into pelvic girdle, allowing only forward and backward movement …_________ movement

Bones of the limbs legs con t
Bones of the LIMBS – Legs con’t

  • Tibiotarus and fibula a) Tibiotarsus bigger of two; extends to heel b) fibula is poorly developed, does not extend to the heel

Bones of the limbs legs con t1
Bones of the LIMBS – Legs con’t

  • ________—”ankle” (fused) essentially not present… with other bones (i.e., tibiotarsus and tarsometatarsus)

  • _____________: tarsometatarsus (or metatarsus…or tarsus)

Bones of the limbs foot feet
Bones of the LIMBS – Foot/Feet

  • ___________—3 to 4 digits Toe I is Hallux (project posteriorly)

  • __________ projections: a) Toe II–inner most b) Toe III–middle most c) Toe IV–outer most

Bones of the limbs foot feet con t
Bones of the LIMBS – Foot/Feet…con’t

  • Toe #1 (hallux) is equivalent to human “big” toe

  • No bird species have 5th toe, some __________

Bones of the trunk
Bones of the TRUNK

  • Vertebral column

  • Ribs

  • Sternum

  • Pectoral Girdle

  • Pelvic Girdle

Vertebral column
Vertebral Column

  • Cervical vertebrae: neck ______

  • Thoracic vertebrae: chest ____

  • Lumbar vertebrae: loin ____

  • Sacral vertebrae: pelvis ____

  • Caudal vertebrae: tail ____

Caudal aka tail vertebrae
Caudal (aka tail) Vertebrae

  • Terminal vertebra: represents several ______vertebrae in humans and reptiles

  • Terminal vertebra: ________ --serves as base for rectrices

_____ caudal vertebrae


  • ________ (compared to human)

  • Typical rib: bony attachment in ___ places to the vertebrae… with cartilaginous attachment in place to sternum

  • This design permits sternum to move in __ directions for breathing


  • Breastbone

  • Two types:________: ventral surface flattened (flightless birds) ________: ventral surface keeled (flying birds)

Carina keel
Carina (keel)

  • Part of the sternum

  • Only found on ________sterna (i.e., flying birds)

  • ______________to the “typical” sternum bone found in mammals, some other vertebrates

  • Provides large surface for attachment of 2 key muscles: a) pectoralis major & minor b) supracoracoideus

Pectoral girdle
Pectoral Girdle

  • “shoulder” girdle

  • _______ supporting wing: a) _________ b) _________ c) _________(fused together = furcula = wishbone)









Pelvic girdle
Pelvic Girdle

  • Fairly similar to human pelvis

  • Gives support to _____

  • 3-parts: a) ilium—largest and longest b) ischium—thin, plate-like c) pubis—slender, needle-like

  • Bones are fused to vertebral column

Bones of the head
Bones of the HEAD

  • _____fusion

  • _____bones—3 areas a) cranium b) face c) tongue

Bones of the HEAD--Cranium

  • Occipital—base of cranium

  • Parietals—back & top

  • Frontals—roof of anterior portion of cranium

  • Squamosals

  • Periotic capsules—contain hearing organs

Bones of the HEAD--Face

  • Quadrate—connect lower mandible with cranium

  • Quadratojugals & jugals—equals zygomatic arch in mammals

  • __________—”upper” jaw

  • Palatines--palate

Bones of the HEAD—Face..con’t

  • ___________—form tip of upper mandible a) part of culmen of beak b) dentary process

  • Nasals—rest on the ethmoid

  • Lacrimals— paired bones in anterior portions of orbits

  • _________ bones a) two bones fused anteriorly (dentary) b) each jaw bone consist of 5, immovable bones

Bones of the HEAD—Tongue

  • __________________ a) glossohyal—main bulk of tongue b) basihyal, basibranchial, ceratobranchials, & epibranchials






Skeletal Summary

  • __________number of bones

  • __________bones numerous

  • Ratite vs. carinate importance

  • Bones are _______, but structurally strong

  • Backbone _______to pelvic girdle

remained flexibile

reduced flexibilility


reduced flexibilility




Frigatebird– has 7’ wingspan weights about 3 lbs

● only 4 oz. of that total is bone (~8%)


  • Does ___require much energy

  • Tendons that flex the toe can _____the foot a tight grip—on rear side of ankle

  • _________ contraction is required to hold the toes closed

  • _____________________ on tendons lying underneath the toe bones mesh with ridges on the inside surface of the surrounding tendon sheath


  • ________--involuntary

  • ________ --involuntary

  • ________--voluntary




  • Total muscles in birds: ___

  • Major differences—among species with respect to breast muscle tissue composition and color

  • Fast vs. slow twitch

Muscles mass distribution differences
Muscles – Mass distribution differences

flight muscles ______of

total body mass, legs ____

  • Hummingbirds & swallows mostly flight

  • Predatory birds flight but use legs to capture prey

  • Swimming birds

  • “Terrestrial” birds --run instead of fly to flee

flight muscles ~_____of

total body mass, leg ____

limb & flight muscles about

equal percentage, overall

_______of total body mass

limb muscle mass __than

flight muscle mass

Muscles back to slow vs fast twitch
Muscles…back to Slow vs. Fast Twitch

  • Two basic processes “fuel” muscle contract:

    A) ____________metabolic pathways --achieve “quick” response --does not requires O2 --more fast-twitch muscle fibers, relative

    to slow-twitch muscle fibers

    B)____________metabolic pathways --achieve “sustained” response --requires O2 --more slow-twitch muscle fibers, relative to fast-twitch muscle fibers --slow-twitch muscle fibers contain lots of _____________

Twitch muscle fibers
_____________Twitch Muscle Fibers

Category Slow-Twitch Fast-Twitch

______________ more fewer

______________ more less

Myoglobin more less

Color appearance red-brown white

__________ build-up lower higher

Fatigue slower quicker

White vs red dark meat examples
White vs. Red/Dark Meat Examples

  • “White” meat: turkeys, pheasant, chickens, grouse

  • Red/dark meat examples: pigeon, waterfowl (ducks, geese, swans), passerines, hawks, owls, vultures)

Muscles birds other flier vs runner differences
Muscles & Birds Other “flier” vs. “runner” differences

  • Composition of leg muscles indicates regular, sustainable activity

  • Composition of breast muscles (major muscle groups responsible for up- and downstroke of wings) indicative to long vs. short flight capabilities

  • Fliers—(think songbirds, waterfowl, etc.) a) legs: ______amounts of myoglobin b) breast: ______amounts of myoglobin

  • Runners—(think quail, pheasant, wild turkey) a) legs: ______amounts of myoglobin b) breast: _______________ myoglobin

More on muscle physiology
More on muscle physiology…

  • “White” muscle tissue has high ________ content—think “quick” energy. Allows for quick flight as it is metabolized ______________ (i.e., ____________)

  • Glycogen is transformed into ___________. Lactic acid is a ________ and its accumulation in the muscles limits stamina—disrupts “reset” of cellular processes

  • Birds use glycogen anaerobically at ________ and when _______, but as flight steadies, they switch to burning fat

Major flight muscles
Major Flight Muscles

↓ _________________– origin on keel of sternum (lateral side) and inserts at humerus on ventral side

_____________________ relaxes during upstroke

↑ ________________– origin on keel of sternum (lateral side), passes through foramen triosseum, inserts (tendon) on dorsal head of humerus. Foramen trosseum formed by articulation of the furcula, coracoid, and scapula.relaxes during downstroke____________________

Left humerus



right humerus


Skeletal muscles con t
Skeletal Muscles…con’t

  • Cranial a) somatic b) _________ arch  tongue, pharynx, syrinx, glottis controls

  • Spinal a) axial b) appendicular