Morphological and functional changes in the vertebral column with increasing aquatic adaptation in crocodylomorphs
Molnar, Julia L.
Bhullar, Bhart-Anjan S.
Turner, Alan H.
Hutchinson, John R.
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CitationMolnar, Julia L., Stephanie E. Pierce, Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar, Alan H. Turner, and John R. Hutchinson. 2015. “Morphological and functional changes in the vertebral column with increasing aquatic adaptation in crocodylomorphs.” Royal Society Open Science 2 (11): 150439. doi:10.1098/rsos.150439. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.150439.
AbstractThe lineage leading to modern Crocodylia has undergone dramatic evolutionary changes in morphology, ecology and locomotion over the past 200+ Myr. These functional innovations may be explained in part by morphological changes in the axial skeleton, which is an integral part of the vertebrate locomotor system. Our objective was to estimate changes in osteological range of motion (RoM) and intervertebral joint stiffness of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae with increasing aquatic adaptation in crocodylomorphs. Using three-dimensional virtual models and morphometrics, we compared the modern crocodile Crocodylus to five extinct crocodylomorphs: Terrestrisuchus, Protosuchus, Pelagosaurus, Steneosaurus and Metriorhynchus, which span the spectrum from terrestrial to fully aquatic. In Crocodylus, we also experimentally measured changes in trunk flexibility with sequential removal of osteoderms and soft tissues. Our results for the more aquatic species matched our predictions fairly well, but those for the more terrestrial early crocodylomorphs did not. A likely explanation for this lack of correspondence is the influence of other axial structures, particularly the rigid series of dorsal osteoderms in early crocodylomorphs. The most important structures for determining RoM and stiffness of the trunk in Crocodylus were different in dorsoventral versus mediolateral bending, suggesting that changes in osteoderm and rib morphology over crocodylomorph evolution would have affected movements in some directions more than others.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:23993668
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