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Title: Uncovering the mosaic evolution of carnivoran skeletal systems
Authors: Law, Chris J.
Hlusko, Leslea J.
Tseng, Jack
Keywords: Adaptive landscape;Carnivora;Ecomorphology;Macroevolution;Ornstein- Uhlenbeck modeling;Phylogenetic comparative methods
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Citation: BioRxiv, 2023 [Preprint]
Abstract: The diversity of vertebrate skeletal forms is often attributed to adaptations to distinct ecological factors such as diet, locomotion, and sensory environment. Although the adaptive evolution of cranial, appendicular, and vertebral skeletal systems is well studied in vertebrates, comprehensive investigations of all skeletal components are rarely performed simultaneously. Consequently, we know little of how modes of evolution differ among skeletal components. We collected 103 linear measurements from 208 osteological museum specimens to capture skeletal variation across the major components of the skeletal systems of 119 extant carnivores. With these data, we tested if ecological and phylogenetic effects led to distinct modes of evolution among the cranial, appendicular, and vertebral skeletal regions by fitting multivariate evolutionary models. We found mosaic evolution in which only the mandible, hindlimb, and posterior region of the vertebral column showed evidence of adaptation towards ecological regimes whereas the remaining skeletal components followed clade-specific evolutionary shifts. We hypothesize that the decoupled evolution of individual skeletal components may have led to the origination of distinct adaptive zones and morphologies among extant carnivoran families that reflect phylogenetic hierarchies. Overall, our work highlights the importance of examining multiple skeletal components simultaneously in ecomorphological analyses. Ongoing work integrating the fossil and paleoenvironmental record will further govern carnivoran diversity we see today and reveal the complexity of evolutionary processes in multicomponent systems.
DOI: 10.1101/2023.09.03.556127
Editor version:
Type: Preprint
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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