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You are here: Home Individual Projects First Funding Period (2004-2007) Project C3: Shoulder Function

Project C3: Shoulder Function

Title Transmission of body weight on the free forelimb through the shoulder girdle in reptiles, especially sauropodomorphs
Principal Investigator Prof. Dr. Holger Preuschoft
Researcher Bianca Hohn


The question of how the weight of the anterior part of the body is transmitted from the trunk to the forelimbs in tetrapods has rarely been addressed explicitly, and never investigated in a satisfactory way. This is true not only for extinct, gigantic reptiles, but also for living mammals. The results obtained by our group in a comparison of cursorial mammals and primates yielded biomechanical explanations for well-known morphological characteristics in both groups.

On this basis, we are investigating the shoulder region in gigantic sauropodomorphs by means of theoretical biomechanics, beginning with comparisons to living vertebrates, especially large-bodied mammals. The mechanical necessities are the same as in dinosaurs, but the morphological structures are different. To get an overview which solutions are realised among tetrapods, we are investigating the weight-bearing structures in crocodiles and in a large lepidosaurian as the closest living quadrupedal relatives of the extinct dinosaurs. We also take into account the situation in birds, in goliath frogs, and giant salamanders. After dissection, the mechanical principles will be worked out and characteristics will be searched for which yield evidence about how sauropodomorphs solved the problem of body weight transfer.


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