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Title: Evolution of the sabertooth mandible: A deadly ecomorphological specialization
Contributor(s): Piras, Paolo (author); Silvestro, Daniele (author); Carotenuto, Francesco (author); Castiglione, Silvia (author); Kotsakis, Anastassios (author); Maiorino, Leonardo (author); Melchionna, Marina (author); Mondanaro, Alessandro (author); Sansalone, Gabriele  (author); Serio, Carmela (author); Vero, Veronica Anna (author); Raia, Pasquale (author)
Publication Date: 2018-05-01
Early Online Version: 2018-02-02
DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2018.01.034
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Abstract: Saber-toothed cats were armed with formidable weapons. They evolved a number of highly derived morphological features, most notably a pair of extremely long upper canines, which makes them unique within the felid family. Although the sabertooth character evolved several times among carnivorous mammals, sabertooth clades mostly had disjunctive occurrences both in space and time, and no sabertooth is alive today. We studied the rates of phenotypic and taxonomic diversification in the mandible of sabertooths, as compared to the rates calculated for both extinct and extant conical toothed cats. We found that the mandible's shape and physical properties in sabertooth clades evolved at distinctly higher rates than the rest of the felid tree. In addition, sabertooths had similar speciation rate to conical toothed cats, but statistically higher extinction rate. The wealth of morphological specializations required to be a sabertooth, and their tendency to focus on large-sized species as prey, was likely responsible for such high extinction rate, and for the peculiar, disjunctive patterns of sabertooth clade occurrence in the fossil record.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v.496, p. 166-174
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Place of Publication: The Netherlands
ISSN: 0031-0182
Field of Research (FOR): 060303 Biological Adaptation
060809 Vertebrate Biology
040308 Palaeontology (incl. Palynology)
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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