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The digital tendon locking mechanism of owls: variation in the structure and arrangement of the mechanism and functional implications

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Einoder, LD and Richardson, AMM (2007) The digital tendon locking mechanism of owls: variation in the structure and arrangement of the mechanism and functional implications. Emu, 107 (3). pp. 223-230. ISSN 0158-4197

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Abstract

This study provides evidence of morphological differences in support of the current phylogenetic division of
the owls into two familes (Strigidae, Tytonidae), with respect to the digital tendon locking mechanism (TLM). This mechanism
consists of modified surfaces on the flexor tendons in the digits, which, when engaged form a lock that holds the digits
in a flexed position. Although species-specific differences in TLM structure were apparent, consistent inter-family differences
occurred in the degree of expression of the TLM, its location within the digit, and in the structure and arrangement
of the locking elements. Phylogenetic differences also occurred in the location of the associated digital ligaments. The TLM
of the Strigidae was found to resemble that of the Falconiformes (Falconidae and Accipitridae). However, the Tytonidae
possess a more distinctive pattern, characterised by a digit 1 TLM located at the opposite end of the digit and bearing
reversed plicae. The biomechanics of the mechanism are considered, along with the functional implications of the varying
structures in an attempt to understand the adaptiveness, or otherwise, of this-little known structure within an avian order.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Emu
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Page Range: pp. 223-230
ISSN: 0158-4197
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1071/MU06019
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2008 14:44
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:36
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