Ontogenetic changes in cortical bone vascular microstructure in the domestic duck (Anas platyrhynchos) and ring‐necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Katherine A. Williams, Neil J. Gostling, Richard O. C. Oreffo, Philipp Schneider

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Abstract

Age-related changes in bone microstructure can inform our understanding the biology of both extant and fossil birds, but to date, histological work in birds, and particularly work using high-resolution 3D imaging, has largely been restricted to limited growth stages. We used minimally destructive synchrotron radiation-based X-ray computed tomography to visualise and measure key morphological and histological traits in 3D across development in the domestic duck and ring-necked pheasant. We use these measurements to build on the database of key reference material for interpreting bone histology. We found that growth patterns differed between the two species, with the ducks showing rapid growth in their lower limbs and early lower limb maturation, while pheasants grew more slowly, reflecting their later age at maturity. In the pheasant, both walking and flight occur early and their upper and lower limbs grew at similar rates. In the duck, flight and wing development are delayed until the bird is almost at full body mass. Through juvenile development, the second moment of area for the duck wing was low but increased rapidly towards the age of flight, at which point it became significantly greater than that of the lower limb, or the pheasant. On a microstructural level, both cortical porosity and canal diameter were related to cortical bone deposition rate. In terms of orientation, vascular canals in the bone cortex were more laminar in the humerus and femur compared with the tibiotarsus, and laminarity increased through juvenile development in the humerus, but not the tibiotarsus, possibly reflecting torsional vs compressive loading. These age-related changes in cortical bone vascular microstructure of the domestic duck and pheasant will help understanding the biology of both extant and fossil birds, including age estimation, growth rate and growth patterns, and limb function.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Early online date24 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 24 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • avian
  • bird
  • bone
  • development
  • histology
  • microstructure
  • palaeontology
  • vasculature
  • UKRI
  • EPSRC
  • EP-H01506X

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