CERDA Ignacio Alejandro
The evolution of dermal shield vascularization in Testudinata and Pseudosuchia: phylogenetic constraints versus ecophysiological adaptations
CLARAC, FRANÇOIS; SCHEYER, TORSTEN M.; DESOJO, JULIA B.; CERDA, IGNACIO A.; SANCHEZ, SOPHIE
PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Año: 2020 vol. 375
Studies on living turtles have demonstrated that shells are involved in the resistance to hypoxia during apnea via bone acidosis buffering; a process which is complemented with cutaneous respiration, transpharyngeal and cloacal gas exchanges in the soft-shell turtles. Bone acidosis buffering during apnea has also been identified in crocodylian osteoderms, which are also known to employ heat transfer when basking. Although diverse, many of these functions rely on one common trait: the vascularization of the dermal shield. Here, we test whether the above ecophysiological functions played an adaptive role in the evolutionary transitions between land and aquatic environments in both Pseudosuchia and Testudinata. To do so, we measured the bone porosity as a proxy for vascular density in a set of dermal plates before performing phylogenetic comparative analyses. For both lineages, the dermal plate porosity obviously varies depending on the animal lifestyle, but these variations prove to be highly driven by phylogenetic relationships. We argue that the complexity of multi-functional roles of the post-cranial dermal skeleton in both Pseudosuchia and Testudinata probably is the reason for a lack of obvious physiological signal, and we discuss the role of the dermal shield vascularization in the evolution of these groups.