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Skull suture function in Sphenodon (free pdf)
From: Ben Creisler
A recent paper that may be of interest and not yet mentioned on the
DML. It's open access.
Neil Curtis, M. E. H. Jones, S. E. Evans, P. O'Higgins and M. J. Fagan (2013)
Cranial sutures work collectively to distribute strain throughout the
Journal of the Royal Society Interface 10 (86): 20130442
The skull is composed of many bones that come together at sutures.
These sutures are important sites of growth, and as growth ceases some
become fused while others remain patent. Their mechanical behaviour
and how they interact with changing form and loadings to ensure
balanced craniofacial development is still poorly understood. Early
suture fusion often leads to disfiguring syndromes, thus is it
imperative that we understand the function of sutures more clearly. By
applying advanced engineering modelling techniques, we reveal for the
first time that patent sutures generate a more widely distributed,
high level of strain throughout the reptile skull. Without patent
sutures, large regions of the skull are only subjected to infrequent
low-level strains that could weaken the bone and result in abnormal
development. Sutures are therefore not only sites of bone growth, but
could also be essential for the modulation of strains necessary for
normal growth and development in reptiles.