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Keywords:

  • Bovidae;
  • ecological morphology;
  • paleoecology;
  • Pleistocene;
  • Sardinia

Abstract

A variety of methods have been developed to use bovid postcranial elements in the functional morphology approach to paleohabitat prediction. This study represents a first attempt at testing morphometric methods based on astragalus and phalanges on extant mountain-dwelling bovids and insular fossil bovids from Sardinia assigned to the so-called ‘Nesogoral group’, already regarded as close to the Caprini tribe. We intended to answer the questions whether a classic four-habitats model could be successfully applied to extant mountain-dwelling bovids, and whether results obtained could support the hypothesis of a radiative evolution for the Sardinian bovids. Results obtained, on the one hand, highlighted some inadequacies of the method if not applied to African bovids; on the other hand, they stressed the difficulties of discriminating habitat preferences of Sardinian taxa only based on biometry of astragalus and phalanges. Nonetheless, statistical habitat predictions suggest the contemporaneous presence in Sardinia of bovids having about the same size, but inhabiting different environments, giving support to the hypothesis that Sardinian representatives of the genus Nesogoral originated from a still unknown ancestor by an adaptive radiation evolutionary process.