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Bone Histology of Fossil Tetrapods

Advancing Methods, Analysis, and Interpretation

Kevin Padian

Publication Year: 2013

The microscopic examination of fossilized bone tissue is a sophisticated and increasingly important analytical tool for understanding the life history of ancient organisms. This book provides an essential primer and manual for using fossil bone histology to investigate the biology of extinct tetrapods. Twelve experts summarize advances in the field over the past three decades, reviewing fundamental basics of bone microanatomy and physiology. Research specimen selection, thin-section preparation, and data analysis are addressed in detail. The authors also outline methods and issues in bone growth rate calculation and chronological age determination, as well as how to examine broader questions of behavior, ecology, and evolution by studying the microstructure of bone.

Published by: University of California Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This book was conceived thanks to Dr. Susan Williams, Drew Lee’s former colleague at Ohio University in Athens. We were discussing with Susan the explosion of histological studies of fossil bone that had occurred in the past two decades, and we thought that it might be helpful to provide guidance to people new to the field about how to select, process, and image specimens, and about the questions and ...

Authors and Contributors

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p. xi-xi

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1. Why Study the Bone Microstructure of Fossil Tetrapods?

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pp. 1-11

In the nineteenth century, when morphology was the queen of the biological sciences, every student of the living world had to know the intimate details of plant and animal anatomy, including microscopic anatomy, as well as the theories of the generation and determination of form and structure that underpinned the science of morphology (Sloan 1992; Desmond 1982, 1989). As a matter of routine, Richard Owen took a thin ...

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2. The Biology of Bone

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pp. 13-34

This chapter examines the topic that, with elegant simplicity, Hancox (1972) called “Biology of Bone.” Whereas cartilage may be found in vertebrates and in many invertebrates, bone is a unique, typically vascularized skeletal tissue found only in vertebrate animals (Hall, 2005). In this section, we discuss the complex hierarchical structure of bone and highlight research into its structural evolution and development. The ...

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3. Selection of Specimens

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pp. 35-54

For the student of histology, there is always something interesting to be found in the examination of the microscopic structure of any tissue. In consideration of the time and energy it takes to produce thin-section slides, as well as the use of a limited resource when sectioning fossil material, it is important to define your questions and plan the details and full scope of all projects in advance of ...

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4. Preparation and Sectioning of Specimens

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pp. 55-160

This is not intended to be an exhaustive guide, and most people will need handson training from an experienced technician to get the best results. However, we provide here an outline of protocols with illustrated examples that will enable you to begin to undertake successful thin sectioning. This chapter also describes variations in techniques ...

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5. Image Standardization in Paleohistology

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pp. 161-175

Workstations for digital photomicrography of the 1970s included a microscope, a video camera, and a computer-controlled image analyzer the size of an American refrigerator! Since that time, the microscopes have changed little, but tremendous advances in computer and camera digitalization technologies allow microscopists to record their images with increased ease and at higher resolution for all of their ...

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6. Database Standardization

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pp. 177-194

Natural history collection repositories are important for safeguarding and preserving not only physical specimens but also their associated data and metadata. Common data include locality and geologic information that describe where a specimen was collected, its taxonomic identification, what skeletal elements are preserved, and its assigned catalog number. Once a fossil is curated and accessioned ...

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7. Skeletochronology

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pp. 195-215

It is evident from previous chapters that not all bones in a skeleton grow at the same rate, that a single bone changes its growth rate through time, and that even parts of the same bone grow at different rates over an individual’s lifetime. This is as true of teeth as it is of bones and cartilage, depending on the animal. Still, an animal can have only one growth trajectory, and the purpose of this chapter is to ...

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8. Analysis of Growth Rates

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pp. 217-251

Recent advances in histological methods and approaches have improved the scope and reliability of our understanding of growth rates in extinct vertebrates. For dinosaur paleobiology in particular, studies can now test the following questions: 1. how quickly dinosaurs grew (e.g., Padian et al. 2001, Erickson 2005), 2. how different body sizes evolved (Erickson et al. 2004, Sander et al. 2006 ...

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9. Evolution of Growth Rates and Their Implications

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pp. 253-264

To study the evolution of growth rates, it is necessary to develop two things: a sense of the ontogenetic patterns of individual species, and a phylogeny of the species in question. Studying ontogenies in phylogenetic context is the best approach to understanding how growth rates evolve. ...

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10. Research Applications and Integration

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pp. 265-285

The point of providing all the information in the previous chapters is to stimulate readers with questions that fuel new research insights and integrative collabora-tions. Our goal has been to provide information about selecting, processing, re-cording, and interpreting samples of fossil bone and other tissues that can help us understand the variation displayed in fossil tissues and structure and to test ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780520955110
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520273528

Page Count: 298
Publication Year: 2013