The degree of fusion between bones is a useful indicator of skeletal and sexual maturity for cetacean specimens preserved in museum collections. The aim of this study was twofold: first, to examine the degree of fusion between bony elements in skulls of Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseus Cuvier, 1812) from Taiwanese waters; and second, to analyze the relationship between skull maturity, body length, sexual maturity, and estimated age, with the aim of determining a useful skull predictor for maturity in Risso's dolphins. The stage of fusion of 20 superficial sutures or joints between selected skull bones was examined on 33 clean, dry skulls, which were salvaged from stranded or bycaught dead Risso's dolphins in Taiwanese waters during the years of 1994 - 2001. The bones of the caudoventral braincase fused early in development (basioccipital-exoccipital synchondrosis, supraoccipital-exoccipital suture), whereas fusion along the nuchal crest (fronto-interparietal and fronto-parietal sutures) occurred later. Some sutures remained open in some adult specimens (lacrimal/maxilla-frontal, squamosal-parietal, squamosal-exoccipital sutures, and the intermandibular symphysis). Bilateral asymmetry of the fusion process was not detected. Advanced fusion occurred in the fronto-interparietal suture along the medial aspect of the nuchal crest, and in the rostral nasal-frontal and distal maxilla-incisive sutures at total body length > 250 cm, and may be useful skull indicators of sexual maturity.
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|
- Grampus griseus
- Risso's dolphin
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics