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International Journal of Morphology

On-line version ISSN 0717-9502

Abstract

SARRIS, Ioannis; MARUGAN-LOBON, Jesús; CHAMERO, Beatriz  and  BUSCALIONI, Ángela D. Shape Variation and Allometry in the Precloacal Vertebral Series of the Snake Daboia russelli (Viperidae). Int. J. Morphol. [online]. 2012, vol.30, n.4, pp.1363-1368. ISSN 0717-9502.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-95022012000400018.

Understanding the variation of the ophidian vertebral morphology is an essential tool in snake paleobiology, but so far this field remains hardly investigated. A major problematic is the still scarce knowledge about the basis of homogeneity of intracolumnar shape variation along the vertebrae of the precloacal region in these animals. For instance, this variation can be overwhelmingly low in cases such as in vipers, for which it seems almost impossible to describe a concrete regionalization of the precloacal region without ambiguity. This study has applied geometric morphometrics to analyze if the shape variation of the vertebrae of the precloacal vertebrae of an adult specimen of Daboia russelli allows differentiating any sort of parcellation within the column of this organism. We have also explored if size is associated with the organization of vertebral shape along the axial skeleton. The multivariate analyses showed that the main pattern of vertebral shape variation in D. russelli concerns the neural spine and the hypapophysis, whereas the shape of the vertebral centrum appears to be nearly invariant along the series. Our analysis also showed that the precloacal region can be sudivided into two portions that merge in a transitional boundary of largest vertebrae in the middle of the column. From this middle region towards the distal ends of the column vertebrae become smaller changing their shapes in two antithetical ways.

Keywords : Intracolumnar variation; Russells viper; Axial skeleton; Serial homology; Vertebral morphology.

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