An ecomorphological analysis of extant small carnivorans


Anthony R. Friscia, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California – Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1606, USA.


An ecomorphological study of extant small carnivorans demonstrates that dietary groups can be distinguished using quantitative morphological characters. Small (<10 kg) modern carnivorans were divided into three dietary classes: carnivores, insectivores and omnivores/hard-object feeders. Statistical analyses revealed differences between these classes including longer carnassial blades in carnivorans, as opposed to larger molar grinding areas, larger post-canine dentitions, and wider fourth premolars in omnivores/hard-object feeders. Insectivores are not consistently distinguished from other dietary types, although they do tend to have weaker dentaries and shorter temporalis muscle moment arms. These trends can be used to help interpret morphologies of taxa of uncertain ecologies, including fossil taxa.