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Generalized osteosclerotic condition in the skeleton of Nanophoca vitulinoides, a dwarf seal from the Miocene of Belgium
Dewaele, L.; Lambert, O.; Laurin, M.; De Kock, T.; Louwye, S.; de Buffrénil, V. (2019). Generalized osteosclerotic condition in the skeleton of Nanophoca vitulinoides, a dwarf seal from the Miocene of Belgium. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 26(4): 517-543. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10914-018-9438-9
In: Journal of Mammalian Evolution. Springer: New York. ISSN 1064-7554; e-ISSN 1573-7055, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Trefwoorden
    Nanophoca vitulinoides; Phocidae Gray, 1821 [WoRMS]
    Marien/Kust
Author keywords
    Neogene; Phocidae; Nanophoca vitulinoides; Osteohistology; Microanatomy;Osteosclerosis

Auteurs  Top 
  • Dewaele, L., meer
  • Lambert, O., meer
  • Laurin, M.
  • De Kock, T., meer
  • Louwye, S., meer
  • de Buffrénil, V.

Abstract
    In the fossil record, it has been shown that various clades of secondarily aquatic tetrapods experienced an initial densification of their bones in the early stages of their evolution, and developed spongier and lighter bones only later in their evolution, with the acquisition of more efficient swimming modes. Although the inner bone structure of most secondarily aquatic tetrapods has already been studied, no research hitherto focused on true seals, or Phocidae. However, preliminary observations previously made on a Miocene species, Nanophoca vitulinoides, suggested that this taxon showed pronounced specialization of bone structure as compared to other seals. This feature justifies a specific comparative study, which is the purpose of this article. Microanatomical analysis of bones of N. vitulinoides shows compactness values nearing 100%, which is much higher than in other semi-aquatic mammals, pinnipeds included. Osteohistological analyses show virtually complete remodeling of the medullary territory by Haversian substitution. Extreme bone compactness locally resulted from an imbalance, towards reconstruction, of this process. Cortical regions were less intensely remodeled. In a number of specimens, the cortex shows clear growth marks as seasonal lines of arrested growth. The results suggest that, despite the extreme compactness of long bones of N. vitulinoides and the small size of this taxon, the growth rate of the cortex, and that of the bones in general, did not differ strongly from that of other, larger phocids. Extreme skeletal compaction and densification must have increased body density in Nanophoca. Consequently, speed, acceleration, and maneuverability must have been low, and this taxon was most likely a near-shore bottom-dwelling seal. Consequently, dietary preferences were most likely oriented towards benthic food sources.

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