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Skeletochronology and isotopic analysis of a captive individual of Alligator mississippiensis Daudin, 1802


Klein, N; Scheyer, T M; Tütken, T (2009). Skeletochronology and isotopic analysis of a captive individual of Alligator mississippiensis Daudin, 1802. Fossil Record, 12(2):121-131.

Abstract

In the present study, bone histology and isotope composition (C, N, O) of a femur and three postcranial osteoderms from an approximately 23-25 year-old captive female Alligator mississippiensis Daudin, 1802 were analyzed to infer the recorded life history. The number of visible annual growth marks in the femur cross-section is less than the known age for the individual concerned, this information clearly shows that skeletochronology has certain limits. However, bone histology reflects very well the traceable life history of this individual and its slow growth in early ontogeny. Bone histology on the basis of the osteoderms shows massive remodeling and an only incompletely preserved growth record, reflecting the egg-laying status of this individual. Interestingly, the carbon and especially the nitrogen isotope compositions of the osteoderms differ from those of the femur. This presumably reflects dietary changes and/or differences in resorption and remodeling processes during tissue formation of these bones. The N, C, and O isotope composition of the femur is consistent with the food and water the alligator had ingested during the last years of its life. Thus, contrary to the osteoderms, the femur yields reliable data for the reconstruction of an individual's dietary and environmental history.

In the present study, bone histology and isotope composition (C, N, O) of a femur and three postcranial osteoderms from an approximately 23-25 year-old captive female Alligator mississippiensis Daudin, 1802 were analyzed to infer the recorded life history. The number of visible annual growth marks in the femur cross-section is less than the known age for the individual concerned, this information clearly shows that skeletochronology has certain limits. However, bone histology reflects very well the traceable life history of this individual and its slow growth in early ontogeny. Bone histology on the basis of the osteoderms shows massive remodeling and an only incompletely preserved growth record, reflecting the egg-laying status of this individual. Interestingly, the carbon and especially the nitrogen isotope compositions of the osteoderms differ from those of the femur. This presumably reflects dietary changes and/or differences in resorption and remodeling processes during tissue formation of these bones. The N, C, and O isotope composition of the femur is consistent with the food and water the alligator had ingested during the last years of its life. Thus, contrary to the osteoderms, the femur yields reliable data for the reconstruction of an individual's dietary and environmental history.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Paleontological Institute and Museum
Dewey Decimal Classification:560 Fossils & prehistoric life
Uncontrolled Keywords:Alligatoridae bone histology life history long bones osteoderms
Language:English
Date:3 August 2009
Deposited On:20 Aug 2009 07:43
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:19
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:1860-1014
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/mmng.200900002
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-20289

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