Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Biomechanical Assessment of Evolutionary Changes in the Lepidosaurian Skull

1. Mehran Moazena,1,
2. Neil Curtisa,
3. Paul O'Higginsb,
4. Susan E. Evansc and
5. Michael J. Fagana

-Author Affiliations

aDepartment of Engineering, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX, United Kingdom;
bThe Hull York Medical School, University of York, York YO10 5DD, United Kingdom; and
cResearch Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom


Edited by R. McNeill Alexander, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom, and accepted by the Editorial Board March 24, 2009 (received for review December 23, 2008)


The lepidosaurian skull has long been of interest to functional morphologists and evolutionary biologists. Patterns of bone loss and gain, particularly in relation to bars and fenestrae, have led to a variety of hypotheses concerning skull use and kinesis. Of these, one of the most enduring relates to the absence of the lower temporal bar in squamates and the acquisition of streptostyly. We performed a series of computer modeling studies on the skull of Uromastyx hardwickii, an akinetic herbivorous lizard. Multibody dynamic analysis (MDA) was conducted to predict the forces acting on the skull, and the results were transferred to a finite element analysis (FEA) to estimate the pattern of stress distribution. In the FEA, we applied the MDA result to a series of models based on the Uromastyx skull to represent different skull configurations within past and present members of the Lepidosauria. In this comparative study, we found that streptostyly can reduce the joint forces acting on the skull, but loss of the bony attachment between the quadrate and pterygoid decreases skull robusticity. Development of a lower temporal bar apparently provided additional support for an immobile quadrate that could become highly stressed during forceful biting.

* biomechanics
* Lepidosauria
* lower temporal bar
* streptostyly


* 1To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: m.moazen@hull.ac.uk

Busy assessing what GPFS can do under our new configuration, so no time to comment.

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