Marine Biology

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By Jeanette Wyneken, Matthew H. Godfrey

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28) as hypothesized by Weems (1988), we see that vascularized cartilage would have had to either evolve four separate times or undergo several reversals. Either scenario does not appear likely. 29) but would still have it evolving twice, which may also be unlikely. 30). Clearly, further work on elucidating overall relationships of multiple character states in these genera will be necessary before any definitive conclusions about phylogeny can be reached, but the unique character state of vascularized cartilages offers a potential key to understanding some of their relationships.

Though related to the hard-shelled chelonioid sea turtles in a number of primitive plesiomorphic features, the leatherback has developed an array of unique derived features that doubtlessly render it the most remarkably specialized turtle in the world. , 2006). , 1990, 1992). , 1998; James & Mrosovsky, 2004). , 1973). Its body is covered with a corselet of dramatically and uniquely reduced carapacial and plastral shell bones that are reinforced instead with a layer of small irregular intercalated dermal bones (Gervais, 1872).

Snover and Hohn (2004) looked at humeri from known-age Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) that had been tagged as hatchlings and released into the wild. The turtles from their study were subsequently recovered as dead strandings and allowed for validation of annual LAG formation and the recognition of an annulus, or diffuse mark rather than a distinct LAG, that represented an annual growth mark. Curtin (2006) used bones from known-age desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) from mark-recapture studies to test and validate back-calculation methods to account for LAGs lost to resorption in older animals.

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