The systematic differences of bone remodelling across animal groups and moving from destructive to non- destructive CT methods of studying bone microstructure

  • Amun Dubro

Student thesis: Master of Philosophy


Secondary osteons result from bone remodelling. They develop when osteoclasts resorb bone and osteoblasts deposit concentric cylindrical support structures around Haversian canals (tube networks containing blood vessels). Secondary osteons accumulate after skeletal maturity, and their growth is linked to life history parameters. These structures have been studied extensively within humans for over 300 years, but studies within other animals groups are limited. The largest of these show a correlation exists between body mass and osteon area, and suggested that primates have larger osteons relative to body size than other mammals. The aims of this thesis are to examine a representative sample of species across the primate order to corroborate differences between primates and other mammals, as well as to demonstrate the suitability of tomography for measuring osteon properties. Our results show that non-destructive tomographic approaches can be used to measure osteon size, as CT and published microscopic measurements are comparable. Initially from looking at published work, it can be seen that primates tend to have larger osteons relative to body size than other mammals. The results of this research project further our knowledge of mammalian bone microstructure, and show how systematic differences between mammal groups can be linked to variation in life histories, as well as grouping of the animals within the class Mammalia. Comparing secondary osteon size with these mammal groups in an ANCOVA, using the log body mass as a covariate shows a statistical significance (p < 0.05). Age of maturity of mammals has also been found to have a statistical significance (p < 0.05) when compared to size of secondary osteons. Additionally, the R2 value for age of maturity vs secondary osteon size (0.43) was higher than the R2 of log body mass vs secondary osteon size (0.33). The reason for the distinctive microstructural properties of primates could be due to their prolonged growth rates. Non-destructive CT techniques will allow future studies of microstructure to avoid destructive sampling.

Date of Award31 Dec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRussell Garwood (Supervisor) & Andrew Chamberlain (Supervisor)


  • osteon
  • histology
  • palaeontology

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