MUSEO ARGENTINO DE CIENCIAS NATURALES "BERNARDINO RIVADAVIA"
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
A quantitative approach to the cranial ontogeny of Lycalopex culpaeus (Carnivora: Canidae)
SEGURA, VALENTINA; PREVOSTI, FRANCISCO
ZOOMORPHOLOGY (BERLIN. PRINT)
Año: 2012 vol. 131 p. 79 - 79
The study of cranial ontogeny is important for understanding the relationship between form and function in developmental, ecological, and evolutionary contexts. The transition from lactation to the diet of adult carnivores must be accompanied by pronounced modifications in skull morphology and feeding behavior. Our goal was to study relative growth and development in the skull ontogeny of the canid Lycalopex culpaeus, and interpret our findings in a functional context, thereby exploring the relationship between changes in shape and size with dietary habits and age stages. We performed quantitative analyses, including multivariate allometry and geometric morphometrics. Our results indicate that shape changes are related to functional improvements of the jaw mechanics related for food catching/processing. Estimates of full muscle size, mechanical advantage, and adult cranial shape are reached after sexual maturity, while adult mandible and skull size is reached after weaning, which is related to diet change (incorporation of meat and other food items). The ontogenetic pattern observed in L. culpaeus is similar to those observed in Canis familiaris and C. latrans. However, the magnitude of change seen in L. culpaeus is smaller than those seen in the felid Puma concolor, and considerably smaller than those seen in the bone cracker hyaenid Crocuta crocuta. These patterns are associated to dietary habits and specializations in skull anatomy, as L. culpaeus, domestic dog and coyote are generalist species compared with hypercarnivores such as C. crocuta and P. concolor.