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Small to medium-sized mammal locomotion (free pdf)

From: Ben Creisler

A new online paper in open access that may be of interest to vert paleo:

Alicia Álvarez, Marcos D. Ercoli & Francisco J. Prevosti (2013)
Locomotion in some small to medium-sized mammals: a geometric
morphometric analysis of the penultimate lumbar vertebra, pelvis and
Zoology (advance online publication)
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.zool.2013.08.007

We assessed the influence of a variety of aspects of locomotion and
ecology including gait and locomotor types, maximal running speed,
home range, and body size on postcranial shape variation in small to
medium-sized mammals, employing geometric morphometric analysis and
phylogenetic comparative methods. The four views analyzed, i.e.,
dorsal view of the penultimate lumbar vertebra, lateral view of the
pelvis, posterior view of the proximal femur and proximal view of the
tibia, showed clear phylogenetic signal and interesting patterns of
association with movement. Variation in home range size was related to
some tibia shape changes, while speed was associated with lumbar
vertebra, pelvis and tibia shape changes. Femur shape was not related
to any locomotor variables. In both locomotor type and high-speed gait
analyses, locomotor groups were distinguished in both pelvis and tibia
shape analyses. These results suggest that adaptations to both typical
and high-speed gaits could explain a considerable portion of the shape
of those elements. In addition, lumbar vertebra and tibia showed
non-significant relationships with body mass, which suggests that they
might be used in morpho-functional analyses and locomotor inferences
on fossil taxa, with little or no bias for body size. Lastly, we
observed morpho-functional convergences among several mammalian taxa
and detected some taxa that achieve similar locomotor features
following different morphological paths.