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Mastozoología neotropical

Print version ISSN 0327-9383On-line version ISSN 1666-0536


MARCHESI, María Constanza et al. Functional subdivision of the vertebral column in four south american dolphins. Mastozool. neotrop. [online]. 2018, vol.25, n.2, pp.329-343. ISSN 0327-9383.

Description and functional interpretation of morphological variation in the dolphin column can be facilitated by recognizing structural units. This information offers important clues to the proportion of the column involved in the oscillation and displacement of the flukes, and how swimming style can vary among species. Thus, the morphological characterization and functional subdivision of the vertebral column is of key importance to gain insights into the locomotor performance of cetacean species occurring in different environments. We employed traditional morphometrics to establish the functional subdivision of the vertebral column of Commerson’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus commersonii), a coastal species, and the dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus), a shelf species. These species are closely related, and some of them are partially sympatric. We also compared the obtained results against information previously reported by Marchesi et al (2017) on Peale’s dolphin (Lagenorhynchus australis), a coastal species, and the hourglass dolphin (Lagenorhynchus cruciger), an oceanic species. These results bring further support to our hypothesis that coastal species have morphological traits associated with higher flexibility, whilst platform and oceanic species have features associated with higher stability in a greater proportion of their column.

Keywords : Commerson’s dolphin; Dusky dolphin; Flexibility; Morphometry; Vertebral column.

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