Richard O. Prum's research while affiliated with Yale University and other places

Publications (208)

Preprint
Full-text available
Complex patterns of genome and life-history evolution associated with the end-Cretaceous (K– Pg) mass extinction event limit our understanding of the early evolutionary history of crown group birds. Here, we assess molecular heterogeneity across living birds using a technique enabling inferred sequence substitution models to transition across the h...
Preprint
Full-text available
In lekking systems, females can observe both male courtship displays and fights. It has been theorized that male-male agonism may function as a display, giving females more information about mate quality. However, males in many species, such as Greater Sage-grouse, often fight when females are absent, and can even attack during copulation attempts...
Article
Full-text available
A color gamut quantitatively describes the diversity of a taxon’s integumentary coloration as seen by a specific organismal visual system. We estimated the plumage color gamut of hummingbirds (Trochilidae), a family known for its diverse barbule structural coloration, using a tetrahedral avian color stimulus space and spectra from a taxonomically d...
Article
Full-text available
Vivid, saturated structural colors are conspicuous and important features of many animals. A rich diversity of three-dimensional periodic photonic nanostructures is found in the chitinaceous exoskeletons of invertebrates. Three-dimensional photonic nanostructures have been described in bird feathers, but they are typically quasi-ordered. Here, we r...
Article
Full-text available
Structural colors are produced by wavelength-dependent scattering of light from nanostructures. While living organisms often exploit phase separation to directly assemble structurally colored materials from macromolecules, synthetic structural colors are typically produced in a two-step process involving the sequential synthesis and assembly of bui...
Article
Full-text available
Synopsis Birds with delayed plumage maturation exhibit a drab predefinitive plumage, often despite gonad maturation, before developing the definitive plumage associated with increased reproductive success. Manakins are a diverse clade of neotropical lekking birds with extreme sexual dichromatism, radical sexual displays, and a unique diversity in t...
Article
The complex landscape history of the Neotropics has generated opportunities for population isolation and diversification that place this region among the most species-rich in the world. Detailed phylogeographic studies are required to uncover the biogeographic histories of Neotropical taxa, to identify evolutionary correlates of diversity, and to r...
Article
Full-text available
Bird songs often display musical acoustic features such as tonal pitch selection, rhythmicity, and melodic contouring. We investigated higher-order musical temporal structure in bird song using an experimental method called “music scrambling” with human subjects. Recorded songs from a phylogenetically diverse group of 20 avian taxa were split into...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Neotropical savanna birds occur north and south of, but mostly not in the Amazon Basin, except for a few isolated savanna patches. Here, we investigate the phylogeography of 23 taxa of Neotropical savanna birds co‐distributed across multiple isolated savanna patches to assess to what extent these species have a shared history of spatial diversi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Structural colors are produced by wavelength-dependent scattering of light from nanostructures. While living organisms often exploit phase separation to directly assemble structurally colored materials from macromolecules, synthetic structural colors are typically produced in a two-step process involving the sequential synthesis and assembly of bui...
Preprint
Full-text available
Vivid, saturated structural colors are a conspicuous and important aspect of the appearance of many organisms. A huge diversity of underlying 3D ordered biophotonic nanostructures has been documented, for instance, within the chitinaceous exoskeletons of insects. Here, we report diverse, highly ordered, intracellular, 3D biophotonic crystals in viv...
Article
Full-text available
To date, only two pigments have been identified in avian eggshells: rusty-brown protoporphyrin IX and blue-green biliverdin IXα. Most avian eggshell colours can be produced by a mixture of these two tetrapyrrolic pigments. However, tinamou (Tinamidae) eggshells display colours not easily rationalised by combination of these two pigments alone, sugg...
Article
We examined extremely low-reflectance, velvety black plumage patches in 32 bird species from 15 families and five orders and compared them with 22 closely related control species with normal black plumage. We used scanning electron microscopy to investigate microscopic feather anatomy, and applied spectrophotometry and hyperspectral imaging to meas...
Preprint
Full-text available
The complex landscape history of the Neotropics has generated opportunities for population isolation and subsequent diversification that place this region among the most species-rich in the world. Detailed phylogeographic studies are required to uncover the biogeographic histories of Neotropical taxa, to identify evolutionary correlates of diversit...
Article
Full-text available
Male peacock spiders ( Maratus, Salticidae) compete to attract female mates using elaborate, sexually selected displays. They evolved both brilliant colour and velvety black. Here, we use scanning electron microscopy, hyperspectral imaging and finite-difference time-domain optical modelling to investigate the deep black surfaces of peacock spiders....
Article
Sexual conflict over the indirect benefits of mate choice may arise when traits in one sex limit the ability of the other sex to freely choose mates but when these coercive traits are not necessarily directly harmful (i.e. forced fertilization per se). While we might hypothesize that females can evolve resistance in order to retain the indirect ben...
Preprint
Birds and other reptiles possess a diversity of feather and scale-like skin appendages. Feathers are commonly assumed to have originated from ancestral scales in theropod dinosaurs. However, most birds also have scaled feet, indicating birds evolved the capacity to grow both ancestral and derived morphologies. This suggests a more complex evolution...
Article
The evolution and diversification of cell types is a key means by which animal complexity evolves. Recently, hierarchical clustering and phylogenetic methods have been applied to RNA-seq data to infer cell type evolutionary history and homology. A major challenge for interpreting this data is that cell type transcriptomes may not evolve independent...
Article
Full-text available
Many studies have shown how pigments and internal nanostructures generate color in nature. External surface structures can also influence appearance, such as by causing multiple scattering of light (structural absorption) to produce a velvety, super black appearance. Here we show that feathers from five species of birds of paradise (Aves: Paradisae...
Preprint
The evolution and diversification of cell types is a key means by which animal complexity evolves. Recently, hierarchical clustering and phylogenetic methods have been applied to RNA-seq data to infer cell type evolutionary history and homology. A major challenge for interpreting this data is that cell type transcriptomes may not evolve independent...
Article
Full-text available
Ducks are an excellent group to study avian genital evolution. Penis morphology of ducks is diverse, and penis length and elaboration are positively correlated with levels of male competition resulting from forced extra-pair copulations, and with female genital elaboration resulting from sexual conflict. Here we examined whether penis morphology is...
Article
Full-text available
In living color Animals live in a colorful world, but we rarely stop to think about how this color is produced and perceived, or how it evolved. Cuthill et al. review how color is used for social signals between individual animals and how it affects interactions with parasites, predators, and the physical environment. New approaches are elucidating...
Article
Although reconstruction of the phylogeny of living birds has progressed tremendously in the last decade, the evolutionary history of Neoaves—a clade that encompasses nearly all living bird species—remains the greatest unresolved challenge in dinosaur systematics. Here we investigate avian phylogeny with an unprecedented scale of data: >390,000 base...
Article
Full-text available
Many organisms in nature have evolved sophisticated cellular mechanisms to produce photonic nanostructures and, in recent years, diverse crystalline symmetries have been identified and related to macroscopic optical properties. However, because we know little about the distributions of domain sizes, the orientations of photonic crystals, and the na...
Article
Full-text available
Feathers exhibit an extraordinary diversity of shapes, which are used by birds to accomplish a diverse set of functions. Pennaceous feathers have a double branched morphology that develops from a tube of epidermis, and variation in branch geometry determines feather shape. Feather development is both complex (i.e., a simple developmental modificati...
Article
Interspecific social dominancemimicry (ISDM) is a form of social parasitism in which a subordinate species evolves to mimic and deceive a dominant interference competitor in order to avoid attack by the dominant species. ISDM has been proposed to result in (1) antagonistic coevolutionary arms races in appearance between the model and the mimic (e.g...
Article
Full-text available
Broadbills in the genus Smithornis produce a loud brreeeeet during a distinctive flight display. It has been posited that this klaxon-like sound is generated non-vocally with the outer wing feathers (P9, P10), but no scientific studies have previously addressed this hypothesis. Although most birds that make non-vocal communication sounds have feath...
Article
Full-text available
Although reconstruction of the phylogeny of living birds has progressed tremendously in the last decade, the evolutionary history of Neoaves-a clade that encompasses nearly all living bird species-remains the greatest unresolved challenge in dinosaur systematics. Here we investigate avian phylogeny with an unprecedented scale of data: >390,000 base...
Article
Full-text available
Tonal, nonvocal sounds are widespread in both ordinary bird flight and in communication displays. We hypothesized these sounds are attributable to an aerodynamic mechanism intrinsic to flight feathers: aeroelastic flutter. Individual wing and tail feathers from 35 taxa (from 13 families) that produce tonal flight sounds were tested in a wind tunnel...
Article
Full-text available
Mutualisms can be seen as biological markets in which participating species exchange resources and services. Advertisements like the colors fleshy fruits are commonly used to attract mutualistic partners such seed dispersers. Although advertisements are common, the strategies employed in partner attraction and shaping the diversity of advertisement...
Article
Full-text available
Genital coevolution between the sexes is expected to be common because of the direct interaction between male and female genitalia during copulation. Here we review the diverse mechanisms of genital coevolution that include natural selection, female mate choice, male-male competition, and how their interactions generate sexual conflict that can lea...
Article
Feathers are an evolutionary novelty found in all extant birds. Despite recent progress investigating feather development and a revolution in dinosaur paleontology, the relationship of feathers to other amniote skin appendages, particularly reptile scales, remains unclear. Disagreement arises primarily from the observation that feathers and avian s...
Article
Full-text available
Many organisms, especially arthropods, produce vivid interference colors using diverse mesoscopic (100-350 nm) integumentary biophotonic nanostructures that are increasingly being investigated for technological applications. Despite a century of interest, precise structural knowledge of many biophotonic nanostructures and the mechanisms controlling...
Article
Full-text available
The geometry of feather barbs (barb length and barb angle) determines feather vane asymmetry and vane rigidity, which are both critical to a feather's aerodynamic performance. Here, we describe the relationship between barb geometry and aerodynamic function across the evolutionary history of asymmetrical flight feathers, from Mesozoic taxa outside...
Chapter
The field of sexual selection is dominated by research in which natural selection on mating preferences is assumed. As a result, there has been no need to recognize any of the consequences of mate choice that can be independent of natural selection. One such consequence is the evolution of sexual autonomy- defined here as the capacity of an individ...
Article
Full-text available
The diversity of vibrant plumage colors in birds has evolved as a direct result of social and environmental pressures. To fully understand these underlying pressures it is necessary to elucidate the mechanisms for the creation of novel plumage colors which include the metabolic transformations of dietary carotenoids and spectral tuning of the molec...
Preprint
A catalyst meeting on sexual selection studies was held in July 2013 at the facilities of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, NC. This article by a subcommittee of the participants foregrounds some of the topics discussed at the meeting. Topics mentioned here include the relevance of heritability estimates to assessing t...
Preprint
Full-text available
A catalyst meeting on sexual selection studies was held in July 2013 at the facilities of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, NC. This article by a subcommittee of the participants foregrounds some of the topics discussed at the meeting. Topics mentioned here include the relevance of heritability estimates to assessing t...
Article
Full-text available
A catalyst meeting on sexual selection studies was held in July 2013 at the facilities of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, NC. This article by a subcommittee of the participants foregrounds some of the topics discussed at the meeting. Topics mentioned here include the relevance of heritability estimates to assessing t...
Preprint
Full-text available
A catalyst meeting on sexual selection studies was held in July 2013 at the facilities of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, NC. This article by a subcommittee of the participants foregrounds some of the topics discussed at the meeting. Topics mentioned here include the relevance of heritability estimates to assessing t...
Article
Interspecific social dominance mimicry (ISDM) is a proposed form of social parasitism in which a subordinate species evolves to mimic and deceive a dominant ecological competitor in order to avoid attack by the dominant, model species. The evolutionary plausibility of ISDM has been established previously by the Hairy-Downy game (Prum & Samuelson)....
Article
Full-text available
Asymmetry in flight feather vane width is a major functional innovation associated with the evolution of flight in the ancestors of birds. However, the developmental and morphological basis of feather shape is not simple, and the developmental processes involved in vane width asymmetry are poorly understood. We present a theoretical model of feathe...
Article
The plumage carotenoids of six species from five genera of broadbills (Eurylaimidae) have been examined. These plumages are crimson, violet, purple-maroon, or yellow. Two genera also have brilliant green plumages that are produced by a combination of structural coloration and unknown carotenoids. Six different carotenoids from nine different plumag...
Article
Full-text available
A feather from the Eocene Messel Formation, Germany, has been demonstrated to have been originally structurally colored by densely packed sheets of melanosomes similar to modern iridescent feathers exhibiting thin-film diffraction. The fossil itself currently exhibits a silvery sheen, but the mechanism for generating this optical effect was not ful...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Our objective is to provide ornithologists with a tool for looking at 3D models of birds through the eyes of other birds. This tool overcomes the limits of the human visual system to allow scientists to quantify and analyze avian color in a completely novel way.
Chapter
The non-pigmentary colors of the tissues of living organisms are produced by the physical interaction of light with nanostructures in the tissues. Contrary to what has been previously assumed for many decades, it has been established now that many of the beautiful blue and green colors observed in the tissues of mammals, birds, and butterflies are...
Article
Rhodoxanthin is one of few retro-carotenoids in nature. These chromophores are defined by a pattern of single and double bond alternation that is reversed relative to most carotenoids. Rhodoxanthin is found in the plumage of several families of birds, including fruit doves (Ptilinopus, Columbidae) and the red cotingas (Phoenicircus, Cotingidae). Th...
Article
Full-text available
This work proposes a coevolutionary theory of aesthetics that encompasses both biotic and human arts. Anthropocentric perspectives in aesthetics prevent the recognition of the ontological complexity of the aesthetics of nature, and the aesthetic agency of many non-human organisms. The process of evaluative coevolution is shared by all biotic advert...
Article
Previous analysis of carotenoids extracted from the burgundy plumage of the Pompadour Cotinga (Xipholena punicea) revealed six novel keto-carotenoid pigments with methoxyl groups in the C3-position of one or both β-rings. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), mass spectrometry, chemical analysis and, in some instances (1)H-NMR spectroscopy...
Conference Paper
We studied how the short-range-ordered nanostructures in bird feather barbs create angle-invariant colors. By manipulating the interplay between light scattering and absorption, we fabricated biomimetic nanostructures that produce isotropic color.
Article
Full-text available
Feathers can produce sound by fluttering in airflow. This flutter is hypothesized to be aeroelastic, arising from coupling of aerodynamic forces to one or more of the feather's intrinsic structural resonant frequencies. We investigated how mode of flutter varied among a sample of hummingbird tail-feathers tested in a wind tunnel. Feather vibration...
Article
Full-text available
Males in the 'bee' hummingbird clade produce distinctive, species-specific sounds with fluttering tail feathers during courtship displays. Flutter may be the result of vortex shedding, or aero-elastic interactions. We investigated the underlying mechanics of flutter and sound production of a series of different feathers in a wind tunnel. All feathe...
Article
The colors of fleshy fruits are considered to be a signal to seed-dispersing animals, but their diversity remains poorly understood. Using an avian color space to derive a sensory morphospace for fruit color, we tested four hypotheses of fruit color diversity: fruit colors occupy a limited area of the color space; they are less diverse than flower...
Article
Darwin proposed an explicitly aesthetic theory of sexual selection in which he described mate preferences as a 'taste for the beautiful', an 'aesthetic capacity', etc. These statements were not merely colourful Victorian mannerisms, but explicit expressions of Darwin's hypothesis that mate preferences can evolve for arbitrarily attractive traits th...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual conflict occurs when the evolutionary interests of the sexes differ and it broadly applies to decisions over mating, fertilization and parental investment. Recently, a narrower view of sexual conflict has emerged in which direct selection on females to avoid male-imposed costs during mating is considered the distinguishing feature of conflic...
Article
The evolution of many forms of mimicry are well understood, but the evolution of mimicry in the absence of aposematic models or third party participants remains poorly understood. This paper presents a model of the evolution of interspecific social dominance mimicry (ISDM), that does not rely on third-party observers, in the context of the Hairy-Do...
Article
Full-text available
Light absorption by carotenoids is known to vary substantially with the shape or conformation of the pigment molecule induced by the molecular environment, but the role of interactions between carotenoid pigments and the proteins to which they are bound, and the resulting impact on organismal coloration, remain unclear. Here, we present a spectrosc...
Article
Full-text available
Sophisticated methods for true spectral rendering have been developed in computer graphics to produce highly accurate images. In addition to traditional applications in visualizing appearance, such methods have potential applications in many areas of scientific study. In particular, we are motivated by the application of studying avian vision and a...
Article
Carotenoid pigments were extracted from 29 feather patches from 25 species of cotingas (Cotingidae) representing all lineages of the family with carotenoid plumage coloration. Using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), mass spectrometry, chemical analysis, and (1)H-NMR, 16 different carotenoid molecules were documented in the plumages of...
Article
Full-text available
Non-iridescent structural colours of feathers are a diverse and an important part of the phenotype of many birds. These colours are generally produced by three-dimensional, amorphous (or quasi-ordered) spongy β-keratin and air nanostructures found in the medullary cells of feather barbs. Two main classes of three-dimensional barb nanostructures are...
Article
The erection mechanism of the penis in most vertebrates is blood vascular. A major evolutionary transition occurred in birds, where the erection mechanism changed from blood vascular to lymphatic. Within birds, however, the erection mechanism of the ratite penis has remained unknown. Early work suggested that the erection mechanism in ostrich Strut...
Article
Full-text available
During courtship flights, males of some hummingbird species produce diverse sounds with tail feathers of varying shapes. We show that these sounds are produced by air flowing past a feather, causing it to aeroelastically flutter and generate flutter-induced sound. Scanning laser doppler vibrometery and high-speed video of individual feathers of dif...
Article
The avian plumage color gamut is the complete range of plumage colors, as seen by birds themselves. We used a tetrahedral avian color stimulus space to estimate the avian plumage color gamut from a taxonomically diverse sample of 965 plumage patches from 111 avian species. Our sample represented all known types of plumage coloration mechanisms. The...
Article
Full-text available
We have investigated wavelength-dependent light scattering in biomimetic structures with short-range order. Coherent backscattering experiments are performed to measure the transport mean free path over a wide wavelength range. Overall scattering strength is reduced significantly due to short-range order and near-field effects. Our analysis explain...
Article
Monodisperse spherical colloidal particles robustly self-assemble into crystals at high concentration. We study the the self-assembly of polymer nano-dumbells and find that they crystallize only under strong confinement - in thin films less than three particles thick. On the other hand, external electric fields can readily align dumbbell- shaped pa...
Article
Full-text available
The erection mechanism of the penis in most vertebrates is blood vascular. A major evolutionary transition occurred in birds, where the erection mechanism changed from blood vascular to lymphatic. Within birds, however, the erection mechanism of the ratite penis has remained unknown. Early work suggested that the erection mechanism in ostrich Strut...
Article
Recent advances in the fields of chromatography, mass spectrometry, and chemical analysis have greatly improved the efficiency with which carotenoids can be extracted and analyzed from avian plumage. Prior to these technological developments, Brush (1968) concluded that the burgundy-colored plumage of the male pompadour Cotinga Xipholena punicea is...
Article
Xu et al. describe the extraordinarily preserved feathers from two subadults of the oviraptorisaur Similicaudipteryx from the Yixian Formation of Liaoning, China. The preserved tail feathers of the juvenile specimen (STM4.1) show a morphology not previously observed in any fossil feathers. The tail feathers of an older, immature specimen (STM22-6)...
Article
The Fisher-inspired, arbitrary intersexual selection models of Lande (1981) and Kirkpatrick (1982), including both stable and unstable equilibrium conditions, provide the appropriate null model for the evolution of traits and preferences by intersexual selection. Like the Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium, the Lande–Kirkpatrick (LK) mechanism arises as an...
Article
Genetic variation in the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) locus is responsible for color variation, particularly melanism, in many groups of vertebrates. Fairy-wrens, Maluridae, are a family of Australian and New Guinean passerines with several instances of dramatic shifts in plumage coloration, both intra- and inter-specifically. A number of these c...
Article
Two types of films that are structurally colored by exploiting the self-assembly of colloidal polymer nanoparticles were created. Monodisperse PS spheres were synthesized using a surfactant-free polymerization technique. Particles were electrostatically stabilized by copolymerization with sodium 4-vinylbenzenesulfonate. After synthesis, particle su...
Article
We investigate the mechanism of structural coloration by quasi-ordered nanostructures in bird feather barbs. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) data reveal the structures are isotropic and have short-range order on length scales comparable to optical wavelengths. We perform angle-resolved reflection and scattering spectrometry to fully characteriz...