Limb bone allometry during postnatal ontogeny in non-avian dinosaurs

Brandon M. Kilbourne, Peter J. Makovicky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Although the interspecific scaling of tetrapods is well understood, remarkably little work has been done on the ontogenetic scaling within tetrapod species, whether fossil or recent. Here the ontogenetic allometry of the femur, humerus, and tibia was determined for 23 species of non-avian dinosaur by regressing log-transformed length against log-transformed circumference for each bone using reduced major axis bivariate regression. The femora of large theropod species became more robust during ontogeny, whereas growth in the femora of sauropodomorphs and most ornithischians was not significantly different from isometry. Hadrosaur hindlimb elements became significantly more gracile during ontogeny. Scaling constants were higher in all theropods than in any non-theropod taxa. Such clear taxonomically correlated divisions were not evident in the ontogenetic allometry of the tibia and hindlimb bones did not scale uniformly within larger taxonomic groups. For taxa in which the ontogenetic allometry of the humerus was studied, only Riojasaurus incertus exhibited a significant departure from isometry. Using independent contrasts, the regression of femoral allometry against the log of adult body mass was found to have a significant negative correlation but such a relationship could not be established for other limb elements or growth parameters, mainly due to the small sample size. The intraspecific scaling patterns observed in dinosaurs and other amniotes do not support earlier hypotheses that intraspecific scaling differs between endothermic and ectothermic taxa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-152
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Allometry
  • Dinosaurian
  • Long bones
  • Ontogeny


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