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A New Look at Ichthyosaur Long Bone Microanatomy and Histology: Implications for Their Adaptation to an Aquatic Life


Houssaye, Alexandra; Scheyer, Torsten M; Kolb, Christian; Fischer, Valentin; Sander, P Martin (2014). A New Look at Ichthyosaur Long Bone Microanatomy and Histology: Implications for Their Adaptation to an Aquatic Life. PLoS ONE, 9(4):e95637.

Abstract

Background Ichthyosaurs are Mesozoic reptiles considered as active swimmers highly adapted to a fully open-marine life. They display a wide range of morphologies illustrating diverse ecological grades. Data concerning their bone microanatomical and histological features are rather limited and suggest that ichthyosaurs display a spongious, “osteoporotic-like” bone inner structure, like extant cetaceans. However, some taxa exhibit peculiar features, suggesting that the analysis of the microanatomical and histological characteristics of various ichthyosaur long bones should match the anatomical diversity and provide information about their diverse locomotor abilities and physiology.
Methodology/Principal Findings The material analyzed for this study essentially consists of mid-diaphyseal transverse sections from stylopod bones of various ichthyosaurs and of a few microtomographic (both conventional and synchrotron) data. The present contribution discusses the histological and microanatomical variation observed within ichthyosaurs and the peculiarities of some taxa (Mixosaurus, Pessopteryx). Four microanatomical types are described. If Mixosaurus sections differ from those of the other taxa analyzed, the other microanatomical types, characterized by the relative proportion of compact and loose spongiosa of periosteal and endochondral origin respectively, seem to rather especially illustrate variation along the diaphysis in taxa with similar microanatomical features. Our analysis also reveals that primary bone in all the ichthyosaur taxa sampled (to the possible exception of Mixosaurus) is spongy in origin, that cyclical growth is a common pattern among ichthyosaurs, and confirms the previous assumptions of high growth rates in ichthyosaurs.
Conclusions/Significance The occurrence of two types of remodelling patterns along the diaphysis, characterized by bone mass decrease and increase respectively is described for the first time. It raises questions about the definition of the osseous microanatomical specializations bone mass increase and osteoporosis, notably based on the processes involved, and reveals the difficulty in determining the true occurrence of these osseous specializations in ichthyosaurs.

Abstract

Background Ichthyosaurs are Mesozoic reptiles considered as active swimmers highly adapted to a fully open-marine life. They display a wide range of morphologies illustrating diverse ecological grades. Data concerning their bone microanatomical and histological features are rather limited and suggest that ichthyosaurs display a spongious, “osteoporotic-like” bone inner structure, like extant cetaceans. However, some taxa exhibit peculiar features, suggesting that the analysis of the microanatomical and histological characteristics of various ichthyosaur long bones should match the anatomical diversity and provide information about their diverse locomotor abilities and physiology.
Methodology/Principal Findings The material analyzed for this study essentially consists of mid-diaphyseal transverse sections from stylopod bones of various ichthyosaurs and of a few microtomographic (both conventional and synchrotron) data. The present contribution discusses the histological and microanatomical variation observed within ichthyosaurs and the peculiarities of some taxa (Mixosaurus, Pessopteryx). Four microanatomical types are described. If Mixosaurus sections differ from those of the other taxa analyzed, the other microanatomical types, characterized by the relative proportion of compact and loose spongiosa of periosteal and endochondral origin respectively, seem to rather especially illustrate variation along the diaphysis in taxa with similar microanatomical features. Our analysis also reveals that primary bone in all the ichthyosaur taxa sampled (to the possible exception of Mixosaurus) is spongy in origin, that cyclical growth is a common pattern among ichthyosaurs, and confirms the previous assumptions of high growth rates in ichthyosaurs.
Conclusions/Significance The occurrence of two types of remodelling patterns along the diaphysis, characterized by bone mass decrease and increase respectively is described for the first time. It raises questions about the definition of the osseous microanatomical specializations bone mass increase and osteoporosis, notably based on the processes involved, and reveals the difficulty in determining the true occurrence of these osseous specializations in ichthyosaurs.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Paleontological Institute and Museum
Dewey Decimal Classification:560 Fossils & prehistoric life
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Language:English, German
Date:2014
Deposited On:08 Jul 2014 15:51
Last Modified:06 May 2020 23:42
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0095637
PubMed ID:24752508

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