Limb posture in early mammals: Sprawling or parasagittal. 2007. Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska and Jørn H. Hurum. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 51: 2006: 393-406
Abstract : The limb posture in early mammals is a matter of controversy. Kielan-Jaworowska and Gambaryan presented arguments for a sprawling posture in multituberculates, based mainly on three characters of the hind limbs (deep pelvis, mediolateral diameter of the tibia larger than the craniocaudal, and position of MtV, which fits the peroneal groove on the calcaneus and is not aligned with the axis of tuber calcanei). Here we present two more arguments for sprawling hind limbs in early mammals.
1: the presence of an os calcaris, supporting the probably venomous spur in hind legs of docodontans, multituberculates, eutriconodontans, and “symmetrodontans”, similar to those of extant monotremes. We argue that early mammals (except for boreosphenidans) had sprawling limb posture and venomous spur; acquisition of the parasagittal stance was apparently characteristic only of boreosphenidans, in which the spur has not been found.
2: based on taphonomic evidence from lacustrine conditions (e.g., Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota), in which the mammalian skeletons, except for boreosphenidans (Sinodelphys and Eomaia), have been preserved compressed dorso-ventrally, suggesting sprawling stance.
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