Neck Flexibility and Feeding Habits in Meiolania platyceps Explored Using Photogrammetric Biomechanics

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper

Abstract:

The Meiolania platyceps is an extinct Meiolaniid turtle which resided in the Southern Hemispheres Gondwanaland regions. The specimen used for this project was from the Pleistocene and found on Lord Howe Island, Australia. The aim of the project was to study the neck vertebrae in order to determinethe feeding ecology of the species, whether it preferred finding food of the ground or from higher vegetation. Through the neck range of motion, information about the relationships of the species should also be found, this since both taxonomic suborders of turtles, the cryptodira and he pleurodira have very distinctive patterns of movement for retracting the head. To determine this, the method of photogrammetry was used to develop 3D models of the vertebrae that could be manipulated in order to determine range of motion of the neck. The neck was discovered to match neither the movement pattern of the cryptodira or the pleurodira but is more likely a form of stem turtle or stem crypodira. Regarding the feeding patterns the results proved more conclusive. The neck mobility seems to strongly favor feeding from the ground. Since the Meiolania platyceps remnants have been found on islands and dated to Pleistocene time, which was the time leading up to the latest iceage, these ground level eating habits would most likely favor a diet of grass or similar.

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