New Publication: Flying Starlings, PET and the evolution of volant Dinosaurs

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Grayscale diceCT image of a European starling head in parasagittal view with a Positron Emission Tomography heat map superimposed. Warmer colors indicate metabolically active regions within the eye (left-most) and brain (right- and top-most). The anterior Wulst is encircled in the forebrain, indicating the highest levels of metabolic activity during flight are in this region. 

“The morphological adaptations that led to flight in dinosaurs are understood, but the accompanying neuroanatomical changes are still elusive. We used Positron Emission Tomography scanning and diceCT to identify the parts of the brain used during flight in starlings. We found that the anterior Wulst and entopallium are the most used, probably creating a short-term conflict alert system that connects visual and somatosensory input to adjust flight paths. This gives us our first insight into how birds use their brains to fly and what that could mean for the evolution of volancy in theropod dinosaurs.”


– Lead Author Eugenia Gold @

Head over to Current Biology and read the pub!