The evolution of the mechanical properties of amniote bone

J Biomech. 1987;20(11-12):1035-44. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(87)90021-2.


162 specimens from 19 species of amniote were tested for various mechanical and physical properties to ascertain whether there were characteristic differences between different groups. All mechanical properties showed very great variation. In general the reptiles were not inferior to the mammals and birds. The histology of living forms was compared to that of fossil forms, to see whether 'weak' histology was more characteristic of primitive amniotes. The earliest reptiles probably had rather complaint bone, but it was probably tough. Modern types of bone appeared over two hundred million years ago. Very specialised bone, like that of the bullae of whales and antlers, may have evolved only in the mammals, but the fossil record is not complete enough to assert this confidently.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Birds / anatomy & histology
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Bone and Bones / anatomy & histology
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Elasticity
  • Mammals / anatomy & histology
  • Mammals / physiology*
  • Reptiles / anatomy & histology
  • Reptiles / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tensile Strength


  • Calcium