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Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 397–405 | Cite as

Following the Footsteps of the South American Equus: Are Autopodia Taxonomically Informative?

  • Helena Machado
  • Orlando Grillo
  • Eric Scott
  • Leonardo Avilla
Original Paper

Abstract

The genus Equus originated in the Pliocene Epoch of North America, and its arrival in South America is likely related to the Great American Biotic Interchange that took place in the transition of Pliocene to Pleistocene. Currently, there are five recognized species for the South American continent: Equus neogeus, E. santaeelenae, E. insulatus, E. andium, and E. lasallei. The taxonomy of the genus is traditionally based in part upon the proportions of the autopodia. The aim of this study is to evaluate the diagnostic importance of the autopodia of South American Equus through comparative and multiple statistical analyses. Therefore, we analyzed metacarpals, metatarsals, and phalanges from all available South American Equus, with the exception of E. lasallei, which is only known by a skull. We also examined the North American species E. occidentalis, as it has been interpreted to be closely related to South American Equus. Results showed no significant differences between the various South American species according to the dimensions and proportions of the autopodia. A continuum of gradual linear variation among the species was revealed, with superimposition between autopodial characters. The succession and overlap of species indicated that the South American Equus might represent a type of cline.

Keywords

Equus Cline Taxonomy Autopodia 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful for all the curators from the following institutions: Museu Nacional (MN), Museu de Ciências Naturais da Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (MCL), Brazil; Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales ‘Bernardino Rivadavia’ (MACN-Pv), Museo de La Plata (MLP), Argentina; Museo de Historia Natural ‘Gustavo Orcés V’ (V and MECN), Ecuador; Museo Nacional Paleontología y Arqueología de Tarija (TAR), Bolívia; American Museumof Natural History (AMNH), La Brea Tar Pits and Museum (formerly the George C. Page Museum) (GCPM), USA; and Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN), France, for allowing the access to the Equus collections that supported this study. LSA wishes to thank the financial support provided by the Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ) for the researcher scholarship (E-25/2014) on the program “Jovem Cientista do Nosso Estado” and to Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for the post-doc scholarship (248772/2013-9) at the Program “Ciências sem Fronteiras.”

Supplementary material

10914_2017_9389_MOESM1_ESM.docx (11 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 10 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helena Machado
    • 1
  • Orlando Grillo
    • 2
  • Eric Scott
    • 3
  • Leonardo Avilla
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratório de Mastozoologia, Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de BiociênciasUniversidade Federal do Estado do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Geologia e PaleontologiaMuseu Nacional/Universidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological CenterCalifornia State University FullertonFullertonUSA

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