Humeral Epiphyseal Shape in the Felidae: The Influence of Phylogeny, Allometry, and Locomotion

Anthony Walmsley, Sarah Elton, Julien Louys, Laura Bishop, Carlo Meloro

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1424-1438
    JournalJournal of Morphology
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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