Scaling effect on the mid-diaphysis properties of long bones—the case of the Cervidae (deer)
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How skeletal elements scale to size is a fundamental question in biology. While the external shape of long bones was intensively studied, an important component of their organization is also found in their less accessible inner structure. Here, we studied mid-diaphyseal properties of limb long bones, characterizing notably the thickness of their cortices (bone walls), in order to test whether body size directly influences bone inner organization. Previous examinations of scaling in long bones used broad samplings to encompass a wide range of body sizes. To account for the effect of confounding factors related to different lifestyles, we focused our comprehensive sampling on a mammalian clade that comprises various body sizes but a relatively uniform lifestyle, the Cervidae. Positive allometry was found in femoral cross-sectional shape, indicating greater directional bending rigidity in large-sized taxa. None of the compactness parameters scaled allometrically in any of their bones. The cortices of sampled zeugopodial bones (tibia and radius) were found as significantly thicker than those of stylopodial bones (femur and humerus). Furthermore, while the mean relative cortical thickness values for both stylopodial and zeugopodial bones are close to mass-saving optima, the variance for the stylopodial bones is significantly lower. This suggests that mass saving is less intensively selected in zeugopodial bones. Finally, the long-legged Elk (Alces) and the short-legged dwarf Cretan deer (Candiacervus) featured rather thin and thick cortices, respectively, suggesting that the acquisition of a different limb proportion is accompanied by a modification of the relative mid-diaphyseal cortical thickness.
KeywordsAllometry Bone compactness Cervidae Cortical thickness Cross-sectional shape Long bone
We thank Hatem Alkadhi (UniversitätsSpital Zürich) for performing the CT scans. Christine Argot, Christine Lefèvre, and Joséphine Lesur (Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris), Emma Bernard (Natural History Museum, London), Christiane Funk and Frieder Mayer (Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin), Loïc Costeur (Naturhistorisches Museum Basel), John de Vos (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden), Heinz Furrer, Christian Klug, and Winand Brinkmann (Paläontologisches Institut und Museum der Universität Zürich, PIMUZ), Shoji Hayashi and Hiroyuki Taruno (Osaka Museum of Natural History), Renate Lücht and Heiner Luttmann (Zoologisches Institut der Universität Kiel), Nigel Monaghan (National Museum of Ireland, Natural History), Barbara Oberholzer (Zoologisches Museum der Universität Zürich), Gertrud E. Rössner (Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie), Christian Stauffer (Wildnispark Zürich), and Frank Zachos and Alexander Bibl (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien) are acknowledged for granting us access to the collections under their care. Marcelo Sánchez-Villagra and Juan Carillo (both PIMUZ) are thanked for fruitful discussions. Stephan Spiekman (Leiden University) and Philipp Münst (University of Zurich) are thanked for their preliminary data acquisition and analyses. We finally thank three anonymous reviewers and Marcelo Sánchez-Villagra and Andrew Biewener (Harvard University) for the substantial improvements they brought to previous versions of the manuscript. Both authors were funded by the Swiss National Fund SNF 31003A_149605 granted to M. R. Sánchez-Villagra, and EA was subsequently funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Both authors were funded by the Swiss National Fund SNF 31003A_149605 granted to M. R. Sánchez-Villagra, and EA was subsequently funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
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