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new boook on functional morphology
I've just gotten hold of this new tome (Functional Morphology in Vertebrate
Paleontology, CUP 1995, ed JJ Thomason, ISBN 0-521-44095-5, hardback) - some
have you may have seen the review in New Scientist last year. Looks good.
The chapters are...
1. G V Lauder - On the inference of function from structure
2. L M Witmer - The extant phylogenetic bracket and the importance of
reconstructing soft tissues in fossils
3. D B Weishampel - Fossils, function, and phylogeny
4. A W Crompton - Masticatory function in nonmammalian cynodonts and early
5. C M Janis - Correlations between craniodental morphology and feeding
behaviour in ungulates: reciprocal illumination between living and fossil taxa
6. W S Greaves - Functional predictions from theoretical models of the skull
and jaws in reptiles and mammals
7. H N Bryant and A P Russel - Carnassial functioniing in nimravid and felid
sabretooths: theorestical basis and robustness of inferences
8. V L Naples - The artificial generation of wear patterns on tooth models
as a means to infer mandibular movement during feeding in mammals
9. J M Rensberger - Determination of stresses in mammalian dental enamel and
their relevance to the interpretation of feeding behaviours in extinct taxa
10. A B Busby - The structural consequences of skull flattening in crocodilians
11. K S Thomson - Graphical analysis of dermal skull roof patterns
12. R E Johnson and J H Ostrom - the forelimb of _Torosaurus_ and an
analysis of the posture and gait of ceratopsian dinosaurs
13. S M Gatesy - Functional evolution of the hindlimb and tail from basal
therapods to birds
14. E B Griffen - Functional interpretations of spinal anatomy in living and
15. J J Thomason - To what extent can the mechanical environment of bone be
inferred from its internal architecture?
16 K Padian - Form versus function: the evolution of a dialectic
About half of these seem to be must reads for anyone interested in V.P., and
most of of considerable interest. I have only read chptrs 10 & 11 so far.
Without going into too much detail, and for those who aren't already aware
of it, Johnson and Ostrom make a very strong case (and I was very pro erect
gait!) for a sprawling gait in ceratopsian forelimbs, and this means that I
am now very confused! What are these things actually doing? The authors make
a few suggestions...
The other chapter, on archosaur hindlimbs, also appears to be a good piece
of work to someone in my position (i.e. interested, but not competant to
criticise in detail). Gatesy shows that the avian tail/hindlimb muscle
architecture is very different from that of basal therapods, in that the
tail not an important part of hindlimb movement as it is in basal therapods
(in which the pattern is similar to crocodiles and lizards). Using a
Gauthier phylogeny he then describes the pattern going from fully 'saurian'
(e.g. Ceratosaurs), and incrementally becoming more avian as you through the
tetanures (slightly less tail involved in leg movement), the coelurosaurs
(even less tail involved), the maniraptors (weak tail involvement) to the
avians (no tail involvement). As a gradient of morphologies it is so good
that I am immediately suspicious of it - we have become so used to things
not being so clear cut - and I would be very interested to know what might
have caused this pattern. I wonder also how George would reconcile these
observations with the BCF theory. But it seems a good piece of work.
Now for the sabretooths....