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You are here: Home Individual Projects Second Funding Period (2007-2010) Project E5: Girdle Skeleton Function

Project E5: Girdle Skeleton Function

Title Functional morphology of the girdle skeleton in Sauropodomorpha and - selective advantages and disadvantages of dimensional changes
Principal Investigator Prof. Dr. phil.nat. Dr. h.c. H. Preuschoft
Researchers Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Witzel, PD Dr. Claudia Distler, Bianca Hohn


During the first funding period (Project C3), we have analysed general principles of body shape in tetrapods, and compared the biomechanics of the pectoral girdles in reptiles andbirds to those in mammals. Basic differences were identified. The question remains whether the biomechanics of the shoulder in sauropods resembled those in modern reptiles and birds, or those in mammals. In the absence of convincing fossil documents we will analyse the mechanical details of shoulder constructions and examine the advantages and disadvantages of either variant quantitatively to determine selective pressures. Most methods developed and used for this purpose can also be applied to the pelvic girdle, which diverges fundamentally from the shoulder by its rigid connection with the vertebral column.

Therefore we would like very much to extend our study to the pelvis of sauropods, but are afraid that this will not be possible since this part of the application was torn down. We expect interrelations exist between the principles realised in the fore- and the hindlimbs which yield additional evidence for understanding the biomechanics of locomotion in these huge animals. The question will be investigated, whether the structures of shoulder and pelvis permit an unlimited increase of body size, or in which way limitations can be overcome. In addition, selective advantages or disadvantages of growing dimensions will be determined quantitatively.


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