Abstract: Radiographs of 99 intact flippers from 60 subadult to adult bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), all stranded on the Texas coast from 1990 to 1995, were examined to determine location and nature of lesions in the metacarpal and phalangeal bones. Eleven flippers from seven mature dolphins (2.35 to 2.45 m TL) had radiographically obvious lesions: three dolphins had conjoined metacarpal III – first phalanx, which appeared as a bilateral congenital developmental anomaly with incomplete separation and defective formation of the metacarpo-phalangeal joint; two dolphins had degenerative joint disease of the metacarpal III – first phalangeal joint; and two dolphins had metacarpal II – first phalanx lesions. The acquired lesions showed similarities to those seen in domestic mammals. The distinct affinity of both developmental and degenerative lesions for the metacarpal III – first phalanx in these dolphins is noteworthy.

Key Words: congenital abnormalities, degenerative joint disease, digit, flipper, radiology, bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.34.1.2008.65

Page Numbers: 65-70

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