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Journal Articles The Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology Year : 2023

The role of cranial osteoderms on the mechanics of the skull in scincid lizards

Arsalan Marghoub
Loïc Kéver
  • Function : Author
Catherine Williams
Arkhat Abzhanov
  • Function : Author
Matthew Vickaryous
Anthony Herrel
Susan Evans
Mehran Moazen

Abstract

Abstract Osteoderms (ODs) are calcified organs formed directly within the skin of most major extant tetrapod lineages. Lizards possibly show the greatest diversity in ODs morphology and distribution. ODs are commonly hypothesized to function as a defensive armor. Here we tested the hypothesis that cranial osteoderms also contribute to the mechanics of the skull during biting. A series of in vivo experiments were carried out on three specimens of Tiliqua gigas . Animals were induced to bite a force plate while a single cranial OD was strain gauged. A finite element (FE) model of a related species, Tiliqua scincoides , was developed and used to estimate the level of strain across the same OD as instrumented in the in vivo experiments. FE results were compared to the in vivo data and the FE model was modified to test two hypothetical scenarios in which all ODs were (i) removed from, and (ii) fused to, the skull. In vivo data demonstrated that the ODs were carrying load during biting. The hypothetical FE models showed that when cranial ODs were fused to the skull, the overall strain across the skull arising from biting was reduced. Removing the ODs showed an opposite effect. In summary, our findings suggest that cranial ODs contribute to the mechanics of the skull, even when they are loosely attached.
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hal-04234330 , version 1 (13-10-2023)

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Arsalan Marghoub, Loïc Kéver, Catherine Williams, Arkhat Abzhanov, Matthew Vickaryous, et al.. The role of cranial osteoderms on the mechanics of the skull in scincid lizards. The Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology, 2023, 306 (10), pp.2415-2424. ⟨10.1002/ar.25168⟩. ⟨hal-04234330⟩

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