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Pathologies in extant and extinct archosaurs using micro-CT (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

New in open-access PeerJ:

Jennifer Anné, Russell J. Garwood, Tristan Lowe, Philip J. Withers &
Phillip L. Manning (2015)
Interpreting pathologies in extant and extinct archosaurs using micro-CT.
PeerJ 3:e1130
doi:  https://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1130

Palaeopathology offers unique insight to the healing strategies of
extinct organisms, permitting questions concerning bone physiology to
be answered in greater depth. Unfortunately, most palaeopathological
studies are confined to external morphological interpretations due to
the destructive nature of traditional methods of study. This limits
the degree of reliable diagnosis and interpretation possible. X-ray
MicroTomography (micro-CT, XMT) provides a non-destructive means of
analysing the internal three-dimensional structure of pathologies in
both extant and extinct individuals, at higher resolutions than
possible with medical scanners. In this study, we present external and
internal descriptions of pathologies in extant and extinct archosaurs
using XMT. This work demonstrates that the combination of
external/internal diagnosis that X-ray microtomography facilitates is
crucial when differentiating between pathological conditions.
Furthermore, we show that the use of comparative species, both through
direct analysis and from the literature, provides key information for
diagnosing between vertebrate groups in the typical pathological
conditions and physiological processes. Micro-CT imaging, combined
with comparative observations of extant species, provides more
detailed and reliable interpretation of palaeopathologies. Micro-CT is
an increasingly accessible tool, which will provide key insights for
correctly interpreting vertebrate pathologies in the future.