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Publication - Professor Christine Janis

    Correlates between calcaneal morphology and locomotion in extant and extinct carnivorous mammals


    Panciroli, E, Janis, C, Stockdale, M & Martín-Serra, A, 2017, ‘Correlates between calcaneal morphology and locomotion in extant and extinct carnivorous mammals’. Journal of Morphology, vol 278., pp. 1333-1353


    Locomotor mode is an important component of an animal’s ecology, relating to both habitat and substrate choice (e.g., arboreal versus terrestrial) and in the case of carnivores, to mode of predation (e.g., ambush versus pursuit). Here, we examine how the morphology of the calcaneum, the‘heel bone’ in the tarsus, correlates with locomotion in extant carnivores. Other studies have confirmed
    the correlation of calcaneal morphology with locomotion behaviour and habitat. The robustnature of the calcaneum means that it is frequently preserved in the fossil record. Here, we employ linear measurements and 2D-geometric morphometrics on a sample of calcanea from eighty-seven extant carnivorans and demonstrate a signal of correlation between calcaneal morphology and locomotor mode that overrides phylogeny. We used this correlation to determine the locomotor mode, and hence aspects of the palaeobiology of, 47 extinct carnivorous mammal taxa,
    including both Carnivora and Creodonta. We found ursids (bears), clustered together, separate
    from the other carnivorans. Our results support greater locomotor diversity for nimravids (the
    extinct ‘false sabertooths’, usually considered to be more arboreal), than previously expected.
    However, there are limitations to interpretation of extinct taxa because their robust morphology is
    not fully captured in the range of modern carnivoran morphology.
    calcaneum, Carnivora, ecomorphology, locomotion, morphometrics
    Placental mammalian carnivores today mostly comprise species in the
    globally distributed order Carnivora. These mammals are characterised
    by the possession of a pair of carnassial teeth (upper fourth premolar
    and lower first molar; Goswami, 2010; Nowak, 2005). Carnivorans
    exhibit a wide array of diets, including carnivores, omnivores, and some
    herbivores, and locomotor types such as tree-dwellers, runners,
    swimmers, diggers, and ambulators (Goswami, 2010). Their evolutionary
    history stretches back to the generalised paraphyletic assemblage
    of ‘

    Full details in the University publications repository