Project 1270: L. E. Wilson, K. Chin. 2014. Comparative osteohistology of Hesperornis with reference to pygoscelid penguins: the effects of climate and behaviour on avian bone microstructure. Royal Society Open Science. 1.
Specimen: † Hesperornis sp. (NU/VF:286)


The broad biogeographic distribution of Hesperornis fossils in Late Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway deposits has prompted questions about whether they endured polar winters or migrated between mid- and high latitudes. Here, we compare microstructures of hesperornithiform long bones from Kansas and the Arctic to investigate whether migration or Late Cretaceous polar climate affected bone growth. We also examine modern penguin bones to determine how migration and climate may influence bone growth in birds with known behaviours. Histological analysis of hesperornithiform samples reveals continuous bone deposition throughout the cortex, plus an outer circumferential layer in adults. No cyclic growth marks, zonation or differences in vasculature are apparent in the Hesperornis specimens. Comparatively, migratory Adélie and chinstrap penguin bones show no zonation or changes in microstructure, suggesting that migration is not necessarily recorded in avian bone microstructure. Non-migratory gentoos show evidence of rapid bone growth possibly associated with increased chick growth rates in high-latitude populations and large body size. The absence of histological evidence for migration in extinct Hesperornis and extant pygoscelid penguins may reflect that these birds reached skeletal maturity before migration or overwintering. This underscores the challenges of using bone microstructure to infer the effects of behaviour and climate on avian growth.

Read the article »

Article DOI: 10.1098/rsos.140245

Project DOI: 10.7934/P1270,
This project contains
  • 55 Media
  • 10 Folios
  • 5 Taxa
  • 7 Specimens
Total size of project's media files: 676 MB

Download Project SDD File
Currently Viewing:
MorphoBank Project 1270

    This research
    supported by


    member name taxa specimens media media
    Laura Wilson
    Project Administrator
    Last logged in 11/20/14

    Project has no matrices defined.

    Project views

    type number of views Individual items viewed (where applicable)
    Total project views38196
    Project overview3537
    Media views24402Media search (4101 views); M346035 (340 views); M345965 (367 views); M346030 (364 views); M340320 (373 views); M345926 (330 views); M345940 (354 views); M345906 (397 views); M345942 (365 views); M345966 (345 views); M346011 (362 views); M346013 (357 views); M345931 (403 views); M346037 (367 views); M340322 (345 views); M346032 (323 views); M346041 (376 views); M345904 (377 views); M345967 (327 views); M345945 (378 views); M346014 (385 views); M346033 (359 views); M340321 (371 views); M340318 (373 views); M345943 (361 views); M345944 (380 views); M346012 (361 views); M345930 (425 views); M345932 (365 views); M346029 (398 views); M340748 (345 views); M345941 (340 views); M346039 (381 views); M340323 (372 views); M345903 (364 views); M345905 (374 views); M345948 (379 views); M345927 (380 views); M346036 (337 views); M346015 (373 views); M340324 (364 views); M345946 (311 views); M345929 (393 views); M346040 (370 views); M346028 (371 views); M340743 (407 views); M340747 (452 views); M346034 (342 views); M340319 (379 views); M346042 (378 views); M345947 (353 views); M346031 (377 views); M346038 (388 views); M340746 (330 views); M345968 (398 views); M345928 (415 views);
    Taxon list2406
    Specimen list3770
    Folio views4081Folio list (788 views); NUVF 286 (333 views); UNCW B980 - Femur (355 views); UCM 104148 Tibiotarsus (317 views); UNCW B980 - Tibiotarsus (301 views); YPM 1489 (330 views); UNCW B963 - Tibiotarsus (314 views); UNCW B963 - Femur (310 views); YPM 1201 (357 views); UCM 104148 Femur (334 views); YPM 1491 (342 views);

    Project downloads

    type number of downloads Individual items downloaded (where applicable)
    Total downloads from project216
    Project downloads193
    Media downloads23M340743 (3 downloads); M345903 (1 download); M345927 (2 downloads); M345944 (1 download); M345945 (1 download); M345947 (1 download); M345965 (1 download); M346011 (1 download); M345968 (1 download); M346028 (1 download); M346040 (1 download); M346041 (1 download); M346042 (1 download); M340746 (1 download); M340318 (5 downloads); M340319 (1 download);