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Abstract

To help understand the nature of skeletal changes during the reproductive cycle of the female alligator, we compared femoral robusticity (density) and porosity of cross-sections from the midshafts of femora from the following groups of female alligators: (1) immature; (2) pre-ovulatory; (3) postovulatory with soft-shelled oviducal eggs; (4) post-ovulatory with hard-shelled oviducal eggs; (5) post-ovulatory with eggs in the nest; (6) post-ovulatory with hatched eggs; and (7) mature, quiescent. Femora from alligators with eggs in the nest were significantly less robust (dense) than those of the other groups except those with hard-shelled oviducal eggs. Cross sections from the midshaft of femora from alligators with eggs in the nest were significantly more porous than those from all the other groups. The results indicated that calcium was mobilized from the femoral shaft shortly before eggs were laid and that femoral density returned to normal levels for mature alligators 1–2 months after egg-laying.