from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A parasite, such as a flea, that lives on the exterior of another organism.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A parasite that lives on the surface of a host organism; such as the demodex mite which lives in human hair and eyelashes.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. Any parasite which lives on the exterior of animals; -- opposed to
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An external parasite; a parasite living upon the exterior of the host, as distinguished from an endoparasite.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. any external parasitic organism (as fleas)
Sorry, no etymologies found.
Could these serrations have been used in ectoparasite control?
But the two ‘explanations’ aren’t mutually exclusive, as the teeth could still have been important in ectoparasite control.
On the other hand, a ectoparasite is a disproportionate burden for an act of love.
It is clear (I made the point a few times in the previous post) that ectoparasite control is one of the bill's functions, but it does not follow that bills evolved for ectoparasite control.
Could those little premaxillary teeth have been specialized for ectoparasite control?
In Dinosaurs of the Air Greg Paul illustrated a Sinosauropteryx scratching in order to remove ectoparasites, and the cover of The Dinosauria, Second Edition (the current industry-standard volume on dinosaurs) features a Sinosauropteryx (this time by Mark Hallett) nibbling at its proto-feathers, again presumably as a form of ectoparasite control.
A feather with possible ectoparasite eggs from the Crato Formation (Lower Cretaceous, Aptian) of Brazil.
In the previous post we saw how avian bill morphology is crucial to the control of parasites, an assertion that comes from recent studies of bill shape and ectoparasite control in scrub-jays, pigeons and numerous Neotropical bird species.
Influence of bill shape on ectoparasite load in Western scrub-jays.
Adaptive significance of avian beak morphology for ectoparasite control.
Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.