Faculty Mentor

Dr. Judd A Case

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This comparative study explores the relationship between skull morphology and general body size among felids (house cat, lynx, puma), mustelids (minks, weasels, badgers), and canids (foxes, coyotes, wolves); with a focus on North American felids, as it relates to prey acquisition. Previous studies have focused on the evolution of the carnivore skull shape, which include the species examined in this study. Using measurement methods laid out by Radinsky (1981a; 1984), the size of skull components are compared to overall body size to determine the rate of scaling of skull features with body size.

Statistical evaluations of skull measurements within and between the three selected North American carnivore groups allowed it to be determined which features scaled with body size; skull length, jaw length, and tooth row length. Additionally, some of these skull features showed significant correlation with the body size of possible prey, indicating there are limitations on prey size based on skull parameters related to bite strength. When compared against body size, measurements relating to the temporalis muscle didn’t fit the regression lines as well as other data, indicating that the temporalis doesn’t scale directly with body size which is a major component in bite strength differences related to prey size that can be taken. Across all families, the moment arm of the temporalis and the zygomatic arch width showed significant differences between species within a family. In most comparisons, temporal fossa width differences were also significant.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.