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Cranial arterial foramen diameter in turtles: a quantitative assessment of size-independent phylogenetic signal

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image of Animal Biology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Netherlands Journal of Zoology (Vol 18-52).

The study of turtle systematics has relied heavily on characters of the cranial circulation, particularly the internal carotid system, which is represented by canals and foramina in the bony skull. Comparison of cranial arteries and foramina has been qualitative; we undertake a quantitative reassessment of these features. We compare three methods of size removal from morphological data, and suggest methods by which size standardisation may be achieved in instances of incomplete preservation and statistically inadequate sample sizes. Further, we demonstrate that cranial arterial foramina provide a reliable estimate of vessel size, and conclude that the internal carotid system varies quantitatively, significantly and consistently among turtle clades, in a fashion which allows predictions to be made about phylogenetic relationships.


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