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Data from: Measurement, variation, and scaling of osteocyte lacunae: a case study in birds


D'Emic, Michael D.; Benson, Roger B. J.; Benson, Roger B.J. (2013), Data from: Measurement, variation, and scaling of osteocyte lacunae: a case study in birds, Dryad, Dataset,


Basic issues surrounding osteocyte biology are still poorly understood, including the variability of osteocyte morphology within and among bones, individuals, and species. Several studies have suggested that the volume or shape of osteocytes (or their lacunae) are related to bone and/or organismal growth rate or metabolism, but the nature of this relationship, if any, is unclear. Furthermore, several studies have linked osteocyte lacuna volume with genome size or growth rate and suggested that osteocyte lacuna volume is unrelated to body size. Herein the scaling of osteocyte lacuna volume with body mass, growth and basal metabolic rates, genome size, and red blood cell size is tested using a broad sample of extant birds within a phylogenetic framework. Over 12,000 osteocyte lacuna axes were measured in a variety of bones from 34 avian and four non-avian dinosaur species. Osteocyte lacunae in parallel-fibered bone are scalene ellipsoids; their morphology and volume cannot be reliably estimated from any single thin section, and using a prolate ellipsoid model to estimate osteocyte lacuna volume results in a substantial (ca. 2–7 times) underestimate relative to true lacunar volume. Orthogonal thin sections reveal that in birds, even when only observing parallel-fibered, primary, cortical bone, intra-skeletal variation in osteocyte lacuna volume and shape is very high (volumes vary by a factor of 5.4 among different bones), whereas variation among homologous bones of the same species is low (1.2–44%; mean = 12%). Ordinary and phylogenetically informed bivariate and multiple regressions demonstrate that in birds, osteocyte volume scales significantly but weakly with body mass and mass-specific basal metabolic rate and moderately with genome size, but not with erythrocyte size. Avian whole-body growth rate and osteocyte lacuna volume are weakly and inversely related. Finally, we present the first three-dimensionally calculated osteocyte volumes for several non-avian dinosaurs, which are much larger than previously reported values and smaller than those of large extant avians. Osteocyte volumes estimated from a single transverse section and assuming prolate morphology, as done in previous studies, are relative underestimates in theropod dinosaurs compared to sauropod dinosaurs, raising the possibility that no major change in osteocyte volumes (and genome size) occurred within Theropoda on the lineage leading to birds. Osteocyte volume is intertwined with several organismal attributes whose relative importance varies at a number of hierarchical levels.

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