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Age Estimation by Skeletochronology in the Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus), a Highly Exploited Species

Vivian de Buffrénil and Jacques Castanet
Journal of Herpetology
Vol. 34, No. 3 (Sep., 2000), pp. 414-424
DOI: 10.2307/1565365
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1565365
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Age Estimation by Skeletochronology in the Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus), a Highly Exploited Species
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Abstract

The value of skeletal cyclic growth marks, or SGMs, for age estimation in the Nile monitor, Varanus niloticus, a species highly exploited for food and leather, was checked by a mark-recapture experiment including in vivo labelling of bone grwoth. The basic histological features of the SGMs are described, as well as the variability in the structure of these marks with regard to the skeletal elements considered, the technique for processing the sections, and differences between populations or individuals. Ground sections from the shaft of the fibula, observed under transmitted polarized light, are best suited for counting growth marks. Bone labelling indicates that SGMs have an annual periodicity and can thus be reliable age indicators as long as somatic growth proceeds. The formation of SGMs is interpreted with reference to the ecology of the Nile monitors. The practical value of skeletochronology for population surveys is discussed.

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