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Durham University

Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor Sarah Elton

Walmsley, A., Elton, S., Louys, J., Bishop, L.C. & Meloro, C. (2012). Humeral shape in felids: phylogenetic, locomotor and allometric influences. Journal of Morphology 273(12): 1424-1438.

Author(s) from Durham


Bone morphology of the cats (Mammalia: Felidae) is influenced by many factors, including locomotor mode, body size, hunting methods, prey size and phylogeny. Here, we investigate the shape of the proximal and distal humeral epiphyses in extant species of the felids, based on two-dimensional landmark configurations. Geometric morphometric techniques were used to describe shape differences in the context of phylogeny, allometry and locomotion. The influence of these factors on epiphyseal shape was assessed using Principal Component Analysis, Linear Discriminant functions and multivariate regression. Phylogenetic Generalised Least Squares was used to examine the association between size or locomotion and humeral epiphyseal shape, after taking a phylogenetic error term into account. Results show marked differences in epiphyseal shape between felid lineages, with a relatively large phylogenetic influence. Additionally, the adaptive influences of size and locomotion are demonstrated, and their influence is independent of phylogeny in most, but not all, cases. Several features of epiphyseal shape are common to the largest terrestrial felids, including a relative reduction in the surface area of the humeral head and increased robusticity of structures that provide attachment for joint-stabilising muscles, including the medial epicondyle and the greater and lesser tubercles. This increased robusticity is a functional response to the increased loading forces placed on the joints due to large body mass. J. Morphol., 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.