December 2014
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PalaeovertebrataVol.38-2: 2014
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Comparative bone histology of rhabdodontid dinosaurs
Edina Prondvai
Keywords: bone histology-based ontogeny; Mochlodon; Rhabdodon; skeletal maturation; Zalmoxes

doi: 10.18563/pv.38.2.e1

Cite this article: Prondvai E., 2014. Comparative bone histology of rhabdodontid dinosaurs. Palaeovertebrata 38 (2)-e1. doi: 10.18563/pv.38.2.e1

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A comparative bone histological study of the three known genera of the endemic European ornithopod dinosaur family, Rhabdodontidae, is presented here in an ontogenetic context. Investigated specimens were assigned to different ontogenetic stages based exclusively on the histological indicators of osteologic maturation during diametrical bone growth; an entirely size-independent method as opposed to most previous studies. Qualitative comparison of bone histology of corresponding ontogenetic stages and elements among the three valid rhabdodontid genera, Mochlodon, Zalmoxes, and Rhabdodon, revealed some consistent patterns. Genus specific histological differences within Rhabdodontidae are most expressed between Rhabdodon and the Mochlodon-Zalmoxes clade. These indicate a prolonged phase of fast growth and a less constrained cyclicity in the growth dynamics of Rhabdodon, as opposed to the slower and more regulated growth strategy reflected in the bones of Mochlodon and Zalmoxes. These genus specific differences are consistent with the phylogenetic interrelation of the genera and are most probably related to the pronounced differences in body size. However, when compared to other ornithopods, most detected histological features in rhabdodontids do not seem to reliably reflect either phylogenetic relations or body size. A notable common feature of all rhabdodontid genera irrespective of body size is the ontogenetically early onset of cyclical growth and secondary remodelling; a pattern that more resembles the condition found in derived ornithopods than that described in more basal taxa which are closer relatives of rhabdodontids. The recognition of taxon-specific histological patterns as well as patterns indicative of ecological and thereby functional traits clearly requires more accurate, preferably quantitative evaluations.   

Published in Vol.38-2 (2014)


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