uu.seUppsala University Publications
Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Elbow-joint morphology as a guide to forearm function and foraging behaviour in mammalian carnivores
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Palaeobiology, Palaeontology group.
2004 (English)In: Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, ISSN 0024-4082, E-ISSN 1096-3642, Vol. 142, no 1, 91-104 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Among the hunting strategies employed by members of the order Carnivora (Mammalia), two, stalk and ambush and sustained pursuit, are particularly prevalent among larger species of the order. It has been difficult to identify morphological traits that support this distinction and ecological observations have shown that most carnivorans adopt a continuum of strategies, depending on available habitat and prey. In this paper, the shape of the distal humerus articulation is analysed, with the aim of exploring the use of the forelimb in prey procurement, and as a guide to such behaviour among fossil carnivorans. The results suggest that manual manipulation and locomotion are conflicting functions. Elbow-joint morphology supports a division between grapplers (i.e. ambushers) and nongrapplers (i.e. pursuers). Joints of the former are characterized by being relatively wide and the latter, by being relatively narrow and box-like with pronounced stabilizing features. At intermediate and large body sizes, carnivorans show a pattern suggesting mutually exclusive feeding strategies that involve either grappling with prey or sustained pursuit. The former allows for large body sizes, such as pantherine felids and ursids; the latter includes species of only moderate size, such as hyenids and canids. Elbow-joint morphology is closely linked to phylogeny, but the morphology of the cheetah converges with that of nongrapplers, showing that strong selective forces may override the phylogenetic component. Two taxa of giant mustelids from the Miocene were analysed to test whether this sort of analysis is applicable to carnivorans of the past. The African Late Miocene species Ekorus ekakeran has a joint morphology comparable to that of modern-day nongrapplers. Two joint morphologies were found in the North American Late Oligocene-Early Miocene Megalictis ferox. The first morphology is comparable to that of modern pantherine cats and the second forms  an  intermediate  between  grapplers  and  nongrapplers  that  is  not  present  in  the  modern  carnivoran  fauna.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 142, no 1, 91-104 p.
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-90746DOI: 10.1111/j.1096-3642.2004.00129.xOAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-90746DiVA: diva2:163206
Available from: 2003-09-01 Created: 2003-09-01 Last updated: 2013-05-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Aspects of locomotor evolution in the Carnivora (Mammalia)
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Aspects of locomotor evolution in the Carnivora (Mammalia)
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis, the shape of the distal humerus trochlea is analysed using landmark-based morphometrics and multivariate methods, with the aim of exploring locomotor evolution in carnivorans. Elbow joint morphology is used together with body size and craniodental morphology to characterize past and present carnivorans. Evolutionary implications are studied at the ordinal, familial, and species levels, testing specific hypotheses about scaling, morphological constraints, evolutionary trajectories, and potential for social pack-hunting behaviour. The circumference of the distal humerus trochlea is found to be highly correlated with body mass, and appears to scale similarly throughout the order Carnivora. A general predictive model for carnivoran bodymass is presented (a=0.601; b= 2.552; r2=0.952, SEE=0.136, p<0001, n=92), which removes the need for the investigator to actively choose between the diverging estimates that different predictors and their equations often produce. At the elbow joint, manual manipulation and locomotion appear to be conflicting functions, thus suggesting mutually exclusive lifestyles involving either forelimb grappling or pursuit. At large body sizes, carnivorans are distributed over a strongly dichotomised pattern (grappling or locomotion), a pattern coinciding with the postulated threshold in predator-prey size ratio at 21.5-25 kg. This pattern is compared to that of two carnivoran faunas from the Tertiary. In the Oligocene (33.7-23.8 Myr BP), the overall pattern is remarkably similar to that observed for extant Carnivora. In the Miocene (23.8-11.2 Myr BP) carnivores show a similarly dichotomised pattern as the Oligocene and Recent, although the whole pattern is shifted towards larger body sizes. This difference is suggested to be a reflection of the extraordinary species richness of browsing ungulates in the early Miocene of North America. Such an increase in prey spectrum would create a unique situation, in which large carnivores need not commit to a cursorial habitus in order to fill their nutritional requirements. Finally, the elbow joints and craniodental morphology (14 measurements) of fossil canids were examined with the aim of assessing the potential for pack-hunting in fossil canids. It is clear that small and large members of the Recent Caninae share similar craniodental morphologies. However, this pattern is not present in Borophaginae and Hesperocyoninae. In the latter, large representatives are characterized by being short-faced, with reduced anterior premolars and enlarged posterior premolars, thus approaching a “pantherine-like” craniodental configuration. These traits are interpreted as an adaptation for killing prey with canine bites. It is similarly determined that, unlike recent Caninae, all analyzed species of borophagines and hesperocyonines have retained the ability to supinate their forearms. It is therefore likely that manual manipulation was part of their hunting behaviour, thus removing an essential part of the argument for social pack-hunting in these forms, as the benefits of such a strategy become less obvious.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2003. 20 p.
Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1104-232X ; 877
Morphology, Mammalia, Carnivora, Locomotion, Cranial, Elbow joint, Morphology, Morphometrics, Landmarks, Multivariate statistics, Allometry, Ecomorphology, Dental, Body size, Morfologi
National Category
Cell and Molecular Biology
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-3543 (URN)91-554-5710-X (ISBN)
Public defence
2003-09-29, Lecture Theatre, Palaeontology building, Norbyv. 22, Norbyvägen 22, Uppsala, 13:00
Available from: 2003-09-01 Created: 2003-09-01Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full text
By organisation
Palaeontology group
In the same journal
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Natural Sciences

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 234 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link