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Johan Lindgren

Johan Lindgren

Senior lecturer

Johan Lindgren

Microanatomical and Histological Features in the Long Bones of Mosasaurine Mosasaurs (Reptilia, Squamata) - Implications for Aquatic Adaptation and Growth Rates

Author

  • Alexandra Houssaye
  • Johan Lindgren
  • Rodrigo Pellegrini
  • Andrew H. Lee
  • Damien Germain
  • Michael J. Polcyn

Summary, in English

Background: During their evolution in the Late Cretaceous, mosasauroids attained a worldwide distribution, accompanied by a marked increase in body size and open ocean adaptations. This transition from land-dwellers to highly marine-adapted forms is readily apparent not only at the gross anatomic level but also in their inner bone architecture, which underwent profound modifications. Methodology/Principal Findings: The present contribution describes, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the internal organization (microanatomy) and tissue types and characteristics (histology) of propodial and epipodial bones in one lineage of mosasauroids; i.e., the subfamily Mosasaurinae. By using microanatomical and histological data from limb bones in combination with recently acquired knowledge on the inner structure of ribs and vertebrae, and through comparisons with extant squamates and semi-aquatic to fully marine amniotes, we infer possible implications on mosasaurine evolution, aquatic adaptation, growth rates, and basal metabolic rates. Notably, we observe the occurrence of an unusual type of parallel-fibered bone, with large and randomly shaped osteocyte lacunae (otherwise typical of fibrous bone) and particular microanatomical features in Dallasaurus, which displays, rather than a spongious inner organization, bone mass increase in its humeri and a tubular organization in its femora and ribs. Conclusions/Significance: The dominance of an unusual type of parallel-fibered bone suggests growth rates and, by extension, basal metabolic rates intermediate between that of the extant leatherback turtle, Dermochelys, and those suggested for plesiosaur and ichthyosaur reptiles. Moreover, the microanatomical features of the relatively primitive genus Dallasaurus differ from those of more derived mosasaurines, indicating an intermediate stage of adaptation for a marine existence. The more complete image of the various microanatomical trends observed in mosasaurine skeletal elements supports the evolutionary convergence between this lineage of secondarily aquatically adapted squamates and cetaceans in the ecological transition from a coastal to a pelagic lifestyle.

Department/s

  • Lithosphere and Biosphere Science

Publishing year

2013

Language

English

Publication/Series

PLoS ONE

Volume

8

Issue

10

Document type

Journal article

Publisher

Public Library of Science

Topic

  • Geology

Status

Published

ISBN/ISSN/Other

  • ISSN: 1932-6203