Osteoderm Microstructure of “Rauisuchian” Archosaurs from South America

Cerda, I. A., J. B. Desojo, T. M. Scheyer and C. L. Schultz. In Press. Osteoderm microstructure of “rauisuchian” archosaurs from South America. Geobios (accepted manuscript) doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geobios.2013.01.004

Abstract - In this contribution we analyze and discuss the microanatomy and histology of postcranial osteoderms of a number of “rauisuchians” from different localities of South America (Argentina and Brazil). The studied sample includes osteoderms of Fasolasuchus tenax, Prestosuchus chiniquensis, Saurosuchus galilei and an undetermined rauisuchian from Brazil. The bone microanatomy of the osteoderms is variable: whereas some specimens have a rather compact structure, others show a diploe architecture with a central cancellous core bordered by two compact cortices. Both external and basal cortices are mainly composed of poorly vascularized, fine and coarse parallel fibred bone and networks of interwoven and mineralized fiber bundles. The internal region of the non-remodeled specimens consists of a well-vascularized core in which the intrinsic fibers exhibit important variations (even in the same specimen), ranging from coarse, parallel-fibred to woven-fibred bone tissues. Lines of arrested growth (LAGs) are well recorded in both basal and external cortices. Differences in the bone microstructure (compact vs. diploe) could be related to the age, sex and reproductive status of the sampled individuals. Hence, age estimation based on the count of LAGs in rauisuchian osteoderms appears to be reliable only in the early stages of ontogeny. The bone microstructure suggests that rauisuchian osteoderms were originated through a mechanism that involves both intramembranous and metaplastic ossifications.

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