Background Information

Ricklefs[1] described mathematically derived growth curves fitted to compare embryonic growth among avian species. He concluded that embryonic growth across avian species is similar and that the greatest contributors to its variation are egg weight and length of the incubation period. Ricklefs and Starck[2] assert that avian growth and development is a successful model system for comparative study of the evolutionary diversification and the adaptive modification of patterns of growth and maturation.

Classifications of avian development utilize the pattern of altricial versus precocial as the standard, but the pattern is continuous rather than discrete and many intermediate forms or grades exist.[3] Altriciality and precociality are based on neonate maturity at hatching.[3] Altricial hatchlings require more maternal care than precocial; thus, embryo tissues need to function at different times of development. [4'5]

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