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Theropod cranial musculoskeletal constraints (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new open access paper:

Stephan Lautenschlager (2015)
Estimating cranial musculoskeletal constraints in theropod dinosaurs.
Royal Society Oepn Science 2: 150495
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150495

Many inferences on the biology, behaviour and ecology of extinct
vertebrates are based on the reconstruction of the musculature and
rely considerably on its accuracy. Although the advent of digital
reconstruction techniques has facilitated the creation and testing of
musculoskeletal hypotheses in recent years, muscle strain capabilities
have rarely been considered. Here, a digital modelling approach using
the freely available visualization and animation software BLENDER is
applied to estimate cranial muscle length changes and optimal and
maximal possible gape in different theropod dinosaurs. Models of
living archosaur taxa (Alligator mississippiensis, Buteo buteo) were
used in an extant phylogenetically bracketed framework to validate the
method. Results of this study demonstrate that Tyrannosaurus rex,
Allosaurus fragilis and Erlikosaurus andrewsi show distinct
differences in the recruitment of the jaw adductor musculature and
resulting gape, confirming previous dietary and ecological
assumptions. While the carnivorous taxa T. rex and Allo. fragilis were
capable of a wide gape and sustained muscle force, the herbivorous
therizinosaurian E. andrewsi was constrained to small gape angles.