Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 237–249 | Cite as

In the Pursuit of the Predatory Behavior of Borophagines (Mammalia, Carnivora, Canidae): Inferences from Forelimb Morphology

  • Alberto Martín-Serra
  • Borja Figueirido
  • Paul Palmqvist
Original Paper


Here, we perform an ecomorphological study on the major bones (humerus, radius, and ulna) of the carnivoran forelimb using three-dimensional geometric morphometrics. More specifically, we test the association between forelimb morphology and predatory behavior. Our results suggest that the main morphological adaptions of carnivorans to different predatory behaviors relate to: (i) the capacity to perform long and efficient runs as in pounce/pursuit and pursuit predators; (ii) the ability to maneuver as in occasional predators; and (iii) the capacity to exert and resist large loads as in ambushing predators. We used borophagine canids as a case study, given the controversy on the predatory behavior of this extinct subfamily. Our results indicate that borophagines displayed a limited set of adaptions towards efficient running, including reduced joint mobility in both the elbow and the wrist, aspects in which they resemble the living canids. Furthermore, they had forelimbs as powerful as those of the extant ambushing carnivorans (i.e., most felids). This combination of traits suggests that the predatory behavior of borophagines was unique among carnivorans, as it was not fully equivalent to any of the living species.


Ecomorphology Forelimb Predatory behavior Carnivora Borophaginae 



We are grateful to F. J. Serrano, J. A. Pérez Claros, and C. M. Janis and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions during the elaboration of the paper. We thank also S. Almécija for providing us the bone scanning surfaces and R. Portela (NHM, London), E. Westwig and Judith Galkin (AMNH, New York) for kindly providing us access to the specimens under their care. This study was supported by a PhD Research Fellowship (FPU) to AM-S from the “Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia” and CGL2012-37866 grant to BF from the “Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad”. The authors declare that there are not conflicts of interests.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología y Geología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de MálagaMálagaSpain

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