2022-08-05Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/28252
The earliest segmental sternum in a Permian synapsid and its implications for the evolution of mammalian locomotion and ventilation
The sternum is a stabilizing element in the axial skeleton of most tetrapods, closely linked with the function of the pectoral girdle of the appendicular skeleton. Modern mammals have a distinctive sternum characterized by multiple ossified segments, the origins of which are poorly understood. Although the evolution of the pectoral girdle has been extensively studied in early members of the mammalian total group (Synapsida), only limited data exist for the sternum. Ancestrally, synapsids exhibit a single sternal element and previously the earliest report of a segmental sternum in non-mammalian synapsids was in the Middle Triassic cynodont Diademodon tetragonus. Here, we describe the well-preserved sternum of a gorgonopsian, a group of sabre-toothed synapsids from the Permian. It represents an ossified, multipartite element resembling the mammalian condition. This discovery pulls back the origin of the distinctive “mammalian” sternum to the base of Theriodontia, significantly extending the temporal range of this morphology. Through a review of sternal morphology across Synapsida, we reconstruct the evolutionary history of this structure. Furthermore, we explore its role in the evolution of mammalian posture, gait, and ventilation through progressive regionalization of the postcranium as well as the posteriorization of musculature associated with mammalian breathing.
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The article processing charge was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – 491192747 and the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.