Limb Bone Histology of the Upper Triassic Dicynodont Placerias hesternus

Green, J. L., Schweitzer, M. H., and E.-T. Lamm. 2010. Limb Bone Histology and Growth in Placerias hesternus (Therapsida: Anomodontia) from the Upper Triassic of North America. Palaeontology 53:347-364. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-4983.2010.00944.x

Abstract- Patterns of bone deposition are reported and deduced from mid-shaft sections of 21 limb bones of the dicynodont Placerias hesternus from the Placerias Quarry(Upper Triassic), Arizona, USA. All sampled elements of P. hesternus have a large medullary cavity completely filled with bony trabeculae surrounded by dense cortical bone. Dense Haversian bone extends from the perimedullary region to at least the mid-cortex in all sampled bones. Primary bone in the outer cortex of limb elements of P. hesternus is generally zonal fibrolamellar with a peripheral layer of parallelfibred bone. These data suggest periodic rapid osteogenesis followed by slower growth. Among dicynodonts, this strategy is most similar to growth previously reported in other Triassic (Lystrosaurus, Wadiasaurus) and some Permian taxa (Oudenodon, Tropidostoma). An external fundamental system(EFS), suggesting complete or near complete cessation of appositional growth, is present in the largest tibia. This is the first report of EFS in dicynodonts and may represent the attainment of maximum size in P. hesternus. Slow-growing peripheral bone was observed in elements of varying size in our sample and may support a differential growth pattern between P. hesternus individuals from this locality. A complete growth series of P. hesternus, analysis of Placerias specimens from other localities, and further sampling of other Upper Triassic dicynodonts are needed to better understand a more complete picture of the growth and remodelling patterns that we have initially investigated.

I've only been able to briefly scan this, but it looks like a cool study. Two presented hypotheses that caught my eye are that the bone make-up in Placerias suggests an amphibious or aquatic lifestyle, and that the cessation of growth in many of the specimens may been due to a response to changing environmental conditions.

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