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Antiquity and fundamental processes of the antler cycle in Cervidae (Mammalia)


Rössner, Gertrud E; Costeur, Loïc; Scheyer, Torsten M (2021). Antiquity and fundamental processes of the antler cycle in Cervidae (Mammalia). The Science of Nature, 108(1):3.

Abstract

The origins of the regenerative nature of antlers, being branched and deciduous apophyseal appendages of frontal bones of cervid artiodactyls, have long been associated with permanent evolutionary precursors. In this study, we provide novel insight into growth modes of evolutionary early antlers. We analysed a total of 34 early antlers affiliated to ten species, including the oldest known, dating from the early and middle Miocene (approx. 18 to 12 million years old) of Europe. Our findings provide empirical data from the fossil record to demonstrate that growth patterns and a regular cycle of necrosis, abscission and regeneration are consistent with data from modern antlers. The diverse histological analyses indicate that primary processes and mechanisms of the modern antler cycle were not gradually acquired during evolution, but were fundamental from the earliest record of antler evolution and, hence, explanations why deer shed antlers have to be rooted in basic histogenetic mechanisms. The previous interpretation that proximal circular protuberances, burrs, are the categorical traits for ephemerality is refuted.

Abstract

The origins of the regenerative nature of antlers, being branched and deciduous apophyseal appendages of frontal bones of cervid artiodactyls, have long been associated with permanent evolutionary precursors. In this study, we provide novel insight into growth modes of evolutionary early antlers. We analysed a total of 34 early antlers affiliated to ten species, including the oldest known, dating from the early and middle Miocene (approx. 18 to 12 million years old) of Europe. Our findings provide empirical data from the fossil record to demonstrate that growth patterns and a regular cycle of necrosis, abscission and regeneration are consistent with data from modern antlers. The diverse histological analyses indicate that primary processes and mechanisms of the modern antler cycle were not gradually acquired during evolution, but were fundamental from the earliest record of antler evolution and, hence, explanations why deer shed antlers have to be rooted in basic histogenetic mechanisms. The previous interpretation that proximal circular protuberances, burrs, are the categorical traits for ephemerality is refuted.

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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:Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics, General Medicine
Language:English
Date:1 February 2021
Deposited On:17 Dec 2020 17:30
Last Modified:03 Jan 2021 08:51
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0028-1042
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-020-01713-x
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID200021_178853
  • : Project TitleMining the origin and deep-time relationships of ruminants with digital data from the ear
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A_179401
  • : Project TitleThalattosauriform reptiles in Triassic marine ecosystems: digital cranial retrodeformation, 3D reconstruction & functional anatomy

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