Data from: Great spotted cuckoo eggshell microstructure characteristics can make eggs stronger
Soler, Manuel et al. (2020), Data from: Great spotted cuckoo eggshell microstructure characteristics can make eggs stronger, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.jq85fg8
Obligate avian brood parasites lay stronger eggs than their hosts or non-parasitic relatives because they are rounder and have a thicker eggshell. Additionally, some other characteristics of the brood parasitic eggshells related to their microstructure such as size and orientation of calcite crystal units could also contribute to generating even stronger shells. An eggshell microstructure formed by small randomly oriented calcite crystal units can increase the robustness of the eggshells of birds. Here, the eggshell microstructure of avian brood parasites as well as their hosts have been characterized in detail, using X-ray diffraction analyses to estimate the size and degree of orientation of calcite crystal units making the eggshell. Specifically, the brood parasitic great spotted cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) and two hosts (jackdaws, Corvus monedula and magpie, Pica pica) and one non-host species (the pigeon, Columba livia domestica) were considered. Calcite crystal of the eggshell of the brood parasitic species was smaller and more randomly oriented than those of the eggshells of non-parasitic species, which suggest that eggshell microstructure would contribute to explain why parasitic eggs are more resistant to breakage than those of their hosts.