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Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2009 Jun;292(6):798-812. doi: 10.1002/ar.20889.

The relationship between the lizard eye and associated bony features: a cautionary note for interpreting fossil activity patterns.

Author information

1
Department of Physiology, Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, Midwestern University, Glendale, Arizona 85308, USA. margaretihall@yahoo.com

Abstract

Activity pattern, the time of day when an animal is active, is associated with ecology. There are two major activity patterns: diurnal (awake during the day in a photopic environment) and nocturnal (awake at night in a scotopic environment). Lizards exhibit characteristic eye shapes associated with activity pattern, with scotopic-adapted lizard eyes optimized for visual sensitivity with large corneal diameters relative to their eye axial lengths, and photopic-adapted lizards optimized for visual acuity, with larger axial lengths of the eye relative to their corneal diameters. This study: (1) quantifies the relationship between the lizard eye and its associated bony anatomy (the orbit, sclerotic ring, and associated skull widths); (2) investigates how activity pattern is reflected in that bony anatomy; and (3) determines if it is possible to reliably interpret activity pattern for a lizard that does not have the soft tissue available for study, specifically, for a fossil. Knowledge of extinct lizards' activity patterns would be useful in making paleoecological interpretations. Here, 96 scotopic- and photopic-adapted lizard species are analyzed in a phylogenetic context. Although there is a close relationship between the lepidosaur eye and associated bony anatomy, based on these data activity pattern cannot be reliably interpreted for bony-only specimens, such as a fossil, possibly because of the limited ossification of the lepidosaur skull. Caution should be exercised when utilizing lizard bony anatomy to interpret light-level adaptation, either for a fossil lizard or as part of an extant phylogenetic bracket to interpret other extinct animals with sclerotic rings, such as dinosaurs.

PMID:
19462447
DOI:
10.1002/ar.20889
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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