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Acta Biológica Colombiana

Print version ISSN 0120-548X


MUNOZ-DURAN, JOAO  and  FUENTES, JESUALDO ARTURO. Evolution of Sociality, Diet, and Craniodental Anatomy in the Subfamly Caninae. Acta biol.Colomb. [online]. 2012, vol.17, n.1, pp.173-200. ISSN 0120-548X.

Social carnivores affect population parameters, ecology, behavior and speciation and extinction rates of their prey and other sympatric carnivores. Therefore, social carnivores may have influenced the evolution of the structure and organization of ancestral and modern mammal communities. Thus, it is important to identify what extinct carnivore species may have been social and to determine when, where and under which environmental contexts they evolved. The first step is to establish if there is an association between morphological traits, susceptible of being preserved in the fossil record, and differences in the degree of sociality of present day carnivores. The aim of this research was to establish if there is an association between variation in shape and variables related to mechanical properties of the skulls, and differences in sociality level, diet and sex in modern canids. The sample included 972 specimens of 33 canid species. We analyzed the shape of the lateral side of the cranium, zygomatic arch, dentary bone and mandibular corpus, as well as 20 variables related to mechanical properties of the skull. Results suggest that hypercarnivorous social canids have shapes and mechanical properties that are different from other modern canids. We found that morphological variation is not affected by sex. Results may be used to identify extinct Caninae species that were social and hypercarnivorous. Results also suggest that the evolution of sociality is dependent on phylogenetic relationships and ecological context, particularly the abundance of large prey and the presence of sympatric carnivores.

Keywords : Social behavior; hypercarnivory; extant canids; geometric morphometrics; traditional morphometrics.

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