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Palaeovertebrata in press article

Reconstruction of the cervical skeleton posture of the recently-extinct litoptern mammal Macrauchenia patachonica Owen, 1838
R. E. Blanco, Lara Yorio and Felipe Montenegro
Keywords: biomechanics; cervical posture; functional anatomy; Litopterna; Macrauchenia

doi: 10.18563/pv.46.1.e1

Cite this article: Blanco R. E., Yorio L., Montenegro F., 2023. Reconstruction of the cervical skeleton posture of the recently-extinct litoptern mammal Macrauchenia patachonica Owen, 1838. Palaeovertebrata 46 (1)-e1. doi: 10.18563/pv.46.1.e1

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Macrauchenia patachonica was among the largest litopterns. It had a long neck with elongated cervical vertebrae, unique among endemic South American ungulates. We calculated the pattern of stress in the joints between the vertebral centra along the neck of the recently-extinct litoptern mammal M. patachonica for various hypothetical neck postures to determine which one is optimal. We also determined the zygapophyseal alignment positions for the neck, assuming a wide range of values for the thickness of the intervertebral discs. We concluded that a vertical posture is the one that best meets the requirements of nearly constant stress. This upright posture was probably a frequently adopted posture by M. patachonica while feeding or standing. It is also possible that occasionally it could adopt a gerenuk-like posture. In almost any other position, the standard deviations of stress values (SD) divided by mean stress (MS) have values between 0.4 and 0.5. Since it was a mixed feeder, M. patachonica probably used different postures to reach resources at different heights. However, an almost horizontal posture was required for the optimal articulation of the neck vertebrae. It probably represents the posture during fast locomotion, as suggested in a previous biomechanical study of locomotion. 

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