Sanja Horvat, Martina Sakač: Ossification of flipper bones in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus Montagu, 1821) from the Adriatic Sea. Original scientific student paper. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine University of Zagreb. Zagreb. 2010.



Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus Montagu, 1821) is the only whale (Cetacea) resident in the Adriatic Sea today and is a legally protected animal species in Croatia. Many biological characteristics of this species are still unknown as is the ossification pattern of the flipper. Bottlenose dolphins found dead from October 1990 to January 2010 in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea were included in our study. We examined 232 radiographs of flipper originating from 60 male and 57 female bottlenose dolphins with body lengths from 99 to 322 cm and age from 0 to 28 years. Ossification centers and ossification pattern of the bottlenose dolphin flipper was determined. The ossification flipper progresses from proximal towards distal bones. We designed equations based on stages of ossification for estimation of important biological characteristics such as body length, body mass and age of the bottlenose dolphin. These estimations will be used in bottlenose dolphin research where only bone remains are a frequent finding.