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[dinosaur] Susisuchus (Neosuchia, Early Cretaceous, Brazil) Paleohistology: Growth and Lifestyle

Ben Creisler

New in PLoS ONE:

Juliana M. Sayão, Renan A. M. Bantim, Rafael C. L. P. Andrade, Flaviana J. Lima, Antônio A. F. Saraiva, Rodrigo G. Figueiredo, Alexander W. A. Kellner (2016)
Paleohistology of Susisuchus anatoceps (Crocodylomorpha, Neosuchia): Comments on Growth Strategies and Lifestyle. 
PLoS ONE 11(5): e0155297. 

Susisuchus anatoceps is a neosuchian crocodylomorph lying outside the clade Eusuchia, and associated with the transition between basal and advanced neosuchians and the rise of early eusuchians. The specimen MPSC R1136 comprises a partially articulated postcranial skeleton and is only the third fossil assigned to this relevant taxon. Thin sections of a right rib and right ulna of this specimen have been cut for histological studies and provide the first paleohistological information of an advanced non-eusuchian neosuchian from South America. The cross-section of the ulna shows a thick cortex with 17 lines of arrested growth (LAGs), a few scattered vascular canals, and primary and secondary osteons. This bone has a free medullary cavity and a spongiosa is completely absent. Thin sections of the rib show that remodeling process was active when the animal died, with a thin cortex and a well-developed spongiosa. In the latter, few secondary osteons and 4 LAGs were identified. According to the observed data, Susisuchus anatoceps had a slow-growing histological microstructure pattern, which is common in crocodylomorphs. The high number of ulnar LAGs and the active remodeling process are indicative that this animal was at least a late subadult, at or past the age of sexual maturity. This contradicts previous studies that interpreted this and other Susisuchus anatoceps specimens as juveniles, and suggests that full-grown adults of this species were relatively small-bodied, comparable in size to modern dwarf crocodiles.