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Osteoderm microstructure indicates the presence of a crocodylian‐like trunk bracing system in a group of armoured basal tetrapods

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Buchwitz, M., Witzmann, F., Voigt, S. and Golubev, V. 2012. Osteoderm microstructure indicates the presence of a crocodylian‐like trunk bracing system in a group of armoured basal tetrapods. —Acta Zoologica (Stockholm) 93: 260–280.

The microstructure of dorsal osteoderms referred to the chroniosuchid taxa Chroniosuchus, Chroniosaurus, Madygenerpeton and cf. Uralerpeton is compared to existing data on the bystrowianid chroniosuchian Bystrowiella and further tetrapods. Chroniosuchid osteoderms are marked by thin internal and relatively thick external cortices that consist of lowly vascularised parallel‐fibred bone. They are structured by growth marks and, in case of Madygenerpeton, by lines of arrested growth. The cancellous middle region is marked by a high degree of remodelling and a primary bone matrix of parallel‐fibred bone that may include domains of interwoven structural fibres. Whereas the convergence of Bystrowiella and chroniosuchid osteoderms is not confirmed by our observations, the internal cortex of the latter displays a significant peculiarity: It contains distinct bundles of shallowly dipping Sharpey’s fibres with a cranio‐ or caudoventral orientation. We interpret this feature as indicative for the attachment of epaxial muscles which spanned several vertebral segments between the medioventral surface of the osteoderms and the transversal processes of the thoracic vertebrae. This finding endorses the hypothesis that the chroniosuchid osteoderm series was part of a crocodylian‐like trunk bracing system that supported terrestrial locomotion. According to the measured range of osteoderm bone compactness, some chroniosuchian species may have had a more aquatic lifestyle than others.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Geologisches Institut, Bernhard-von-Cotta-Strasse 2, 09599 Freiberg, Germany 2: Museum für Naturkunde, Leibniz-Institut für Evolutions- und Biodiversitätsforschung an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Invalidenstrasse 43, 10115 Berlin, Germany 3: Borissyak Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, Profsoyuznaya str. 123, 117997 Moscow, Russia

Publication date: 2012-07-01

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