Island rule and bone metabolism in fossil murines from Timor

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Miszkiewicz, Justyna J
Louys, Julien
Beck, Robin MD
Mahoney, Patrick
Aplin, Ken
O'Connor, Sue
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2020
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Abstract

Skeletal growth rates reconstructed from bone histology in extinct insular hippopotamids, elephants, bovids and sauropods have been used to infer dwarfism as a response to island conditions. Limited published records of osteocyte lacunae densities (Ot.Dn), a proxy for living osteocyte proliferation, have suggested a slower rate of bone metabolism in giant mammals. Here, we test whether insularity might have affected bone metabolism in a series of small to giant murine rodents from Timor. Ten adult femora were selected from a fossil assemblage dated to the Late Quaternary (~5000–18 000 years old). Femur morphometric data were used in computing phylogenetically informed body mass regressions, although the phylogenetic signal was very low (Pagel’s λ = 0.03). Estimates of body weight calculated from these femora ranged from 75 to 1188 g. Osteocyte lacunae densities from histological sections of the midshaft femur were evaluated against bone size and estimated body weight. Statistically significant (P < 0.05) and strongly negative relationships between Ot.Dn, femur size and estimated weight were found. Larger specimens were characterized by lower Ot.Dn, indicating that giant murines from Timor might have had a relatively slow pace of bone metabolic activity, consistent with predictions made by the island rule.

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Biological Journal of the Linnean Society

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129

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3

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© 2020 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Biological Journal of the Linnean Society following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Island rule and bone metabolism in fossil murines from Timor, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2020, 129 (3), pp. 570-586 is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/biolinnean/blz197.

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Biological sciences

Archaeology

Palaeontology (incl. palynology)

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Miszkiewicz, JJ; Louys, J; Beck, RMD; Mahoney, P; Aplin, K; O'Connor, S, Island rule and bone metabolism in fossil murines from Timor, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2020, 129 (3), pp. 570-586

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