Bone histology of Mezozoic tetrapods

Bone histological investigation of Mesozoic tetrapods

Bone microstructure of fossil vertebrates recovered from Iharkút can tell us a lot about the lifestyle, growth rate, ontogenetic stage, and sometimes even about parental behaviour of the animals in question. Thus, bone histological studies form an integral part of the biological investigation of the Iharkút paleofauna. These studies involve sampling of the fossil bones with different methods, whereafter bone samples are processed into thin sections that can be investigated under polarizing microscopes. Based on the details observable under the microscope, we have already been able to highlight many interesting aspects of the life of these animals. For instance we revealed that even the fully grown individuals of the herbivore rhabdodontid dinosaur, Mochlodon vorosi, which inhabited the island existing in this area 85 million years ago, were so small due to the size-constraining effect of the island that they must have looked like the dwarfed version of their relatives living on larger landmasses. Bone histological study of other vertebrates that do not occur in the Iharkút fauna also represents a very important branch of the Hungarian Mesozoic research. One such study was the result of an international cooperation of researchers in which the growth strategy of one of the best-known pterosaur (flying reptile), Rhamphorhynhcus muensteri has been reconstructed that in part also shed new light on the general interpretation of the bone histology of pterosaurs. These bone histological studies as well as the biological evaluation of the results are performed by Edina Prondvai.

Figure 1. Reconstructed adult body sizes of rhabdodontid dinosaurs inferred from their bone histology
Figure 1. Reconstructed adult body sizes of rhabdodontid dinosaurs inferred from their bone histology
Figure 2. Rhamphorhynchus specimen (flying reptile) housed in the Hungarian Natural History Museum (MTM V 2008.33.1)
Figure 2. Rhamphorhynchus specimen (flying reptile) housed in the Hungarian Natural History Museum (MTM V 2008.33.1)
Figure 3. Thin-section prepared form the tigh-bone of the „Hungarian” Rhamphorhynchus under polarizing microscope
Figure 3. Thin-section prepared form the tigh-bone of the „Hungarian” Rhamphorhynchus under polarizing microscope

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