Patterns of ossification in the manus of the harbor ...

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Title Patterns of ossification in the manus of the harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena): hyperphalangy and delta-shaped bones
Author(s) Susan D. Dawson
Journal Journal of Morphology
Date 2003
Volume 258
Issue 2
Start page 200
End page 206
Abstract With the transition from terrestrial to aquatic habitats, cetacean forelimbs have undergone significant modifications in bone morphology and soft tissue distribution. Some, but not all, of these modifications are also demonstrated in other lineages of extant and extinct secondarily aquatic tetrapods. This study examines the ontogenetic pattern of ossification of the manus of the harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), using plain film radiography. Two modifications examined are hyperphalangy (number of phalanges per digit increased beyond the typical mammalian number) and the morphology of delta-shaped bones. Hyperphalangy in Phocoena phocoena is apparent in digits 2 and 3. Phalangeal counts in all digits are variable (sometimes between the right and left flippers of the same individual) and are not necessarily correlated with age. Phalangeal ossification and epiphyseal fusion proceeds along the proximo-distal axis within each digit. In addition, digits 2 and 3 are at a more advanced stage of ossification than more abaxial digits. Delta-shaped bones appear to be a normal stage in the ossification of phalanges in all digits except the third, and may persist in the adult in certain digits. In humans, this morphology is a developmental anomaly usually associated with other malformations, such as polydactyly or syndactyly. Delta-shaped bones in the cetacean manus display a consistent orientation and the process by which they are formed may be similar to that in extinct marine reptiles.
DOI 10.1002/jmor.10146

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