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Pterosaur medullary bone-like tissue (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper in open access:

Edina Prondvai & Koen H. W. Stein (2014)
Medullary bone-like tissue in the mandibular symphyses of a pterosaur
suggests non-reproductive significance.
Scientific Reports 4, Article number: 6253

Medullary bone is a special bone tissue forming on the endosteal
surface of the medullary cavity in the bones of female birds prior to
and during egg-laying to serve as a calcium reservoir for building the
hard eggshell. It has also been identified in non-avian dinosaurs,
where its presence is considered as a reliable indicator of a sexually
mature female. Here, we reveal that multiple mandibular symphyses of
the azhdarchid pterosaur Bakonydraco galaczi possess a special bone
tissue that shows all microanatomical, histological, and developmental
characteristics of medullary bone, despite its unusual location. Its
frequent occurrence in the sample renders a pathologic origin
unlikely. Our findings as well as the extremely thin-shelled eggs of
pterosaurs suggest that this medullary bone-like tissue probably had a
non-reproductive role in these animals. Although the non-reproductive
significance and the anatomical location of this medullary bone-like
tissue in Bakonydraco suggest independent evolutionary appearance from
dinosaurian medullary bone, a common origin and later diverging
function and physiological regulation is an equally viable
phylogenetic hypothesis.