The copyright line for this article was changed on 4 August 2014 after original online publication.
Patterns and implications of extensive heterochrony in carnivoran cranial suture closure
Article first published online: 27 MAR 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Journal of Evolutionary Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Society for Evolutionary Biology
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 26, Issue 6, pages 1294–1306, June 2013
How to Cite
Goswami, A., Foley, L. and Weisbecker, V. (2013), Patterns and implications of extensive heterochrony in carnivoran cranial suture closure. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 26: 1294–1306. doi: 10.1111/jeb.12127
- Issue published online: 10 JUN 2013
- Article first published online: 27 MAR 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 14 JAN 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 10 JAN 2013
- Manuscript Received: 16 NOV 2012
- morphological diversity;
Heterochronic changes in the rate or timing of development underpin many evolutionary transformations. In particular, the onset and rate of bone development have been the focus of many studies across large clades. In contrast, the termination of bone growth, as estimated by suture closure, has been studied far less frequently, although a few recent studies have shown this to represent a variable, although poorly understood, aspect of developmental evolution. Here, we examine suture closure patterns across 25 species of carnivoran mammals, ranging from social-insectivores to hypercarnivores, to assess variation in suture closure across taxa, identify heterochronic shifts in a phylogenetic framework and elucidate the relationship between suture closure timing and ecology. Our results show that heterochronic shifts in suture closure are widespread across Carnivora, with several shifts identified for most major clades. Carnivorans differ from patterns identified for other mammalian clades in showing high variability of palatal suture closure, no correlation between size and level of suture closure, and little phylogenetic signal outside of musteloids. Results further suggest a strong influence of feeding ecology on suture closure pattern. Most of the species with high numbers of heterochronic shifts, such as the walrus and the aardwolf, feed on invertebrates, and these taxa also showed high frequency of closure of the mandibular symphysis, a state that is relatively rare among mammals. Overall, caniforms displayed more heterochronic shifts than feliforms, suggesting that evolutionary changes in suture closure may reflect the lower diversity of cranial morphology in feliforms.