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You are here: Home Individual Projects Second Funding Period (2007-2010) Project E2: Hierarchical Bone Structure

Project E2: Hierarchical Bone Structure

Title The hierarchical structure of sauropodomorph bones as a key to exceptional body size: insights from materials science
Principal Investigator Prof. Dr.-Ing. Anke Rita Pyzalla, Prof. Dr. P. Martin Sander
Researcher Maïtena Dumont


Sauropods were the heaviest terrestrial animals. Their high mass resulted in heavy loading of the bones. The high mechanical loads could be accommodated either by an increase in bone cross-section or in an optimized hierarchical structure of the bone. In the framework of this research project the hypothesis of an optimized hierarchical structure of the sauropod bones will be tested on Jurassic sauropod longbones. Sauropod and prosauropod longbone cross-sections on all hierarchical levels of the bone structure will be compared to longbone cross-sections of contemporary animals using material science methods. These material science methods include traditional techniques such as scanning and transmission electron microscopy as well as modern and novel techniques such as diffraction, scattering and µ-tomography with synchrotron X-rays. By further comparing the bone structure of sauropods, which died at different ontogenetic ages and of dwarfs and “normal” sauropods the influence of growth and gigantism of the sauropods on their bone structure will be determined. The hypothesis that a unique bone structure allowed gigantism will be tested.

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