Project 2404: M. Clauss, I. Nurutdinova, C. Meloro, H.-C. Gunga, D. Jiang, J. Koller, B. Herkner, P. M. Sander, O. Hellwich. 2016. Reconstruction of body cavity volume in terrestrial tetrapods. Journal of Anatomy. 230 (2):325–336.
Specimen: Hexaprotodon liberiensis


Although it is generally assumed that herbivores have more voluminous body cavities due to larger digestive tracts required for the digestion of plant fiber, this concept has not been addressed quantitatively. We estimated the volume of the torso in 126 terrestrial tetrapods (synapsids including basal synapsids and mammals, and diapsids including birds, non-avian dinosaurs and reptiles) classified as either herbivore or carnivore in digital models of mounted skeletons, using the convex hull method. The difference in relative torso volume between diet types was significant in mammals, where herbivores relative torso volumes about two times larger than that of carnivores, supporting the general hypothesis. However, this effect was not evident in diapsids. This may either reflect the difficulty to reliably reconstruct mounted skeletons in non-avian dinosaurs, or a fundamental difference in the bauplan of different groups of tetrapods, for example due to differences in respiratory anatomy. Evidently, the condition in mammals should not be automatically assumed in other, including more basal, tetrapod lineages. In both synapsids and diapsids, large animals showed a high degree of divergence with respect to the proportion of their convex hull directly supported by bone, with animals like elephants or Triceratops having a low proportion, and animals such as rhinoceros having a high proportion of bony support. The relevance of this difference remains to be further investigated.

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Article DOI: doi 10.1111/joa.12557

Project DOI: 10.7934/P2404,
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MorphoBank Project 2404

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    • University of Zurich


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    Marcus Clauss
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    Last logged in 10/14/16

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