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Scaling and functional morphology in strigiform hind limbs

Rayfield, Emily J.; Madan, Meena A.; Bright, Jen A.

Authors

Emily J. Rayfield

Meena A. Madan

Jen A. Bright



Abstract

Strigiformes are an order of raptorial birds consisting exclusively of owls: the Tytonidae (barn owls) and the Strigidae (true owls), united by a suite of adaptations aiding a keen predatory lifestyle, including
robust hind limb elements modified for grip strength. To assess variation in hind limb morphology, we analysed how the dimensions of the major hind limb elements in subfossil and modern species scaled with body mass. Comparing hind limb element length, midshaft width, and robusticity index (RI: ratio of midshaft width to maximum length) to body mass revealed that femoral and tibiotarsal width
scale with isometry, whilst length scales with negative allometry, and close to elastic similarity in the tibiotarsus. In contrast, tarsometatarsus width shows strong positive allometry with body mass, whilst length shows strong negative allometry. Furthermore, the tarsometatarsi RI scales allometrically to mass0.028, whilst a weak relationship exists in femora (mass0.004) and tibiotarsi (mass0.004). Our results suggest that tarsometatarsi play a more substantial functional role than tibiotarsi and femora. Given
the scaling relationship between tarsometatarsal width and robusticity to body mass, it may be possible to infer the body mass of prehistoric owls by analysing tarsometatarsi, an element that is
frequently preserved in the fossil record of owls.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2017-04
Journal Scientific Reports
Print ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Article Number 44920
APA6 Citation Rayfield, E. J., Madan, M. A., & Bright, J. A. (2017). Scaling and functional morphology in strigiform hind limbs. Scientific reports, 7, https://doi.org/10.1038/srep44920
DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/srep44920
Additional Information Received: 28 June 2016; Accepted: 3 February 2017; First Online: 22 March 2017; : The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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© The Author(s) 2017



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