Oriental Bird Images

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Tiger Shrike Lanius tigrinus  
Tiger Shrike
Photographer : © Amar-Singh HSS
Location :Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Date : 7 February 2018
English synonyms:Thick-billed Shrike, Thick Billed Shrike
Bird Family :Laniidae - Shrikes
Red Data Status :Least Concern
Remarks :I am grateful to Mike Rose, a bird watching colleague based in Thailand, who first pointed out this feature. Although I have occasionally seen tomial teeth in shrikes, I had not questioned its relevance. Tomial ‘teeth’ are “ventral projections along the rostral tomium of the rhamphotheca” [see Sustaita (2014), Cade (1995), Schön (1996)]. These of course are not real ‘teeth’ and are not coated in enamel but keratin. They can be easily missed in the field except at close range. The corresponding indentations in the lower mandible are even harder to appreciate. I looked through many of my images of shrikes and found some passable close-ups that show the feature. Lefranc (1997) describes the feature in Lanius shrikes: they have “raptor-like bills …. The upper mandible shows a subterminal tominal tooth on each side and the lower mandible has corresponding incurvations. This shape bears strong resemblance to that of falcons…” ‏A number of on-line article have described tomial teeth in shrikes as being used to ‘sever the spinal cord’ or ‘deliver the killing stroke’ with some offering detailed work, see for example Sustaita (2014).
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