L'ornementation des os dermiques des pseudosuchiens : morphologie, évolution, fonction

Abstract : Pseudosuchia is the crocodylian lineage which split up with the dinosaurs since the Early- Triassic (around 250 million years ago). At first probably endothermic and terrestrial, pseudosuchians became secondarily ectothermic and some of them returned to a semi-aquatic lifestyle at the Triassic-Jurassic transition (200 Ma): the neosuchians (still present in current nature) and the teleosaurids (disappeared since the Cretaceous). Like some extinct vertebrate groups (« the stegocephalians »), the pseudosuchians possess a dermal bone ornamentation made of pits and grooves on the skull roof, the mandibles and the osteoderms but with the particularity to be excavated by resorption. The study of both fossil and dry bones combining 3D-data monitoring and quantitative data-based phylogenetic comparative analyses evidenced that the semi-aquatic forms possess a more excavated bone ornamentation. Further, histological analyses based on living animal sampling have revealed that the ornamentation pits always house a vessel proliferation which may be involved in heat exchanges during emerged and semi-emerged periods as well as acidosis buffering during submerged periods (apnea). Concerning the biomechanical and thermal implications, the finite element analyses performed on 3D-modeled osteoderms have proved that the bone ornamentation does not modify the osteoderm heat conduction nor their mechanical resistance. Consequently, we assess that the functional role of bone ornamentation shall mainly concern physiological implications through the set-up of a blood vessel network on the bone periphery (heat transfers, blood acidosis buffering; as hypothesized by previous authors). Secondarily, bone ornamentation may also be involved in phosphor-calcic homeostasis based on the succession of pit resorption and secondary superficial bone deposit in response to the specimens. life-long changes (eggshelling, diets.).
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François Clarac. L'ornementation des os dermiques des pseudosuchiens : morphologie, évolution, fonction. Evolution [q-bio.PE]. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017PA066177⟩. ⟨tel-02295621⟩

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