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Ecomorphology of radii in Canidae: Application to fragmentary fossils from Plio-Pleistocene hominin assemblages

Meloro, C and Louys, J (2014) Ecomorphology of radii in Canidae: Application to fragmentary fossils from Plio-Pleistocene hominin assemblages. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 60 (4). pp. 795-806. ISSN 0567-7920

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Abstract

Fragmentary long bone material from fossil Carnivora is rarely considered to support palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. Here, we use morphometry of the radius in extant carnivorans of the dog family (Canidae) to reconstruct the palaeobiology of extinct canids from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania (Bed I and II) and Koobi Fora, Kenya. We use radius morphometrics to predict adaptation to prey size and introduce a new method for quantifying canid habitat adaptations based on the geographic distributions of the extant species sampled. Linear Discriminant Function Analyses (DFA) and cluster neighbour-joining algorithms are employed to investigate radial morphometrics as described by 29 linear measurements. Results of our analyses suggest that a phylogenetic signal is present in radial morphometrics, even if it does not allow us to accurately discriminate among genera. A binary prey size categorisation of “small-medium” versus “large” prey can be more accurately predicted than a habitat categorisation scheme (Open, Mixed, Closed). The East African fossil specimens examined show morphometric affinities with the golden jackal (Canis aureus) and coyote (Canis latrans) and are likely attributable to the genus Canis. Fragmentary fossil specimens from Olduvai Gorge are predicted as habitat generalists (Open for Bed I and Mixed for Bed II) adapted for hunting small-medium prey, whereas the specimen from Koobi Fora was predicted as inhabiting mixed habitats and adapted for killing large prey. This study supports the inclusion of fossil Canidae in palaeoecological analyses attempting to clarify the palaeoenvironment of early hominin fossil sites.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0403 Geology, 0602 Ecology, 0603 Evolutionary Biology
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Natural Sciences and Psychology
Publisher: Polskiej Akademii Nauk, Instytut Paleobiologii (Polish Academy of Sciences, Institue of Paleobiology
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Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2017 10:11
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2017 10:11
DOI or Identification number: 10.4202/app.00080.2014
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/7619

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