Interpreting pathologies in extant and extinct archosaurs using micro-CT

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Abstract

Palaeopathology offers unique insight to the healing strategies of extinct organisms, permitting questions concerning bone physiology to be answered in greater depth. Unfortunately, most palaeopathological studies are confined to external morphological interpretations due to the destructive nature of traditional methods of study. This limits the degree of reliable diagnosis and interpretation possible. X-ray MicroTomography (micro-CT, XMT) provides a non-destructive means of analysing the internal three-dimensional structure of pathologies in both extant and extinct individuals, at higher resolutions than possible with medical scanners. In this study, we present external and internal descriptions of pathologies in extant and extinct archosaurs using XMT. This work demonstrates that the combination of external/internal diagnosis that X-ray microtomography facilitates is crucial when differentiating between pathological conditions. Furthermore, we show that the use of comparative species, both through direct analysis and fromthe literature, provides key information for diagnosing between vertebrate groups in the typical pathological conditions and physiological processes. Micro-CT imaging, combined with comparative observations of extant species, provides more detailed and reliable interpretation of palaeopathologies. Micro-CT is an increasingly accessible tool, which will provide key insights for correctly interpreting vertebrate pathologies in the future.

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Anné, J., Garwood, R. J., Lowe, T., J. Withers, P., & Manning, P. L. (2015). Interpreting pathologies in extant and extinct archosaurs using micro-CT. PeerJ, 2015(7). https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1130

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