Locomotion in some small to medium-sized mammals: a geometric morphometric analysis of the penultimate lumbar vertebra, pelvis, and hindlimbs
ALVAREZ, ALICIA; ERCOLI, MARCOS DARÍO; PREVOSTI, FRANCISCO JUAN
Año: 2013 vol. 116 p. 356 - 371
We assessed the influence of a variety of aspects of locomotion and ecology including gait and locomotor types, maximal running speed, home range, and body size on postcranial shape variation in small to medium-sized mammals, employing geometric morphometric analysis and phylogenetic comparative methods. The four views analyzed, i.e., dorsal view of the penultimate lumbar vertebra, lateral view of the pelvis, posterior view of the proximal femur and proximal view of the tibia, showed clear phylogenetic signal and interesting patterns of association with movement. Variation in home range size was related to some tibia shape changes, while speed was associated with lumbar vertebra, pelvis and tibia shape changes. Femur shape was not related to any locomotor variables. In both locomotor type and high-speed gait analyses, locomotor groups were distinguished in both pelvis and tibia shape analyses. These results suggest that adaptations to both typical and high-speed gaits could explain a considerable portion of the shape of those elements. In addition, lumbar vertebra and tibia showed non-significant relationships with body mass, which suggests that they might be used in morpho-functional analyses and locomotor inferences on fossil taxa, with little or no bias for body size. Lastly, we observed morpho-functional convergences among several mammalian taxa and detected some taxa that achieve similar locomotor features following different morphological paths.