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      Implications of predatory specialization for cranial form and function in canids

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      Journal of Zoology
      Wiley-Blackwell

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          Phylogenetic Analysis of Covariance by Computer Simulation

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            Bite club: comparative bite force in big biting mammals and the prediction of predatory behaviour in fossil taxa.

            We provide the first predictions of bite force (BS) in a wide sample of living and fossil mammalian predators. To compare between taxa, we calculated an estimated bite force quotient (BFQ) as the residual of BS regressed on body mass. Estimated BS adjusted for body mass was higher for marsupials than placentals and the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) had the highest relative BS among extant taxa. The highest overall BS was in two extinct marsupial lions. BFQ in hyaenas were similar to those of related, non-osteophagous taxa challenging the common assumption that osteophagy necessitates extreme jaw muscle forces. High BFQ in living carnivores was associated with greater maximal prey size and hypercarnivory. For fossil taxa anatomically similar to living relatives, BFQ can be directly compared, and high values in the dire wolf (Canis dirus) and thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) suggest that they took relatively large prey. Direct inference may not be appropriate where morphologies depart widely from biomechanical models evident in living predators and must be considered together with evidence from other morphological indicators. Relatively low BFQ values in two extinct carnivores with morphologies not represented among extant species, the sabrecat, Smilodon fatalis, and marsupial sabretooth, Thylacosmilus atrox, support arguments that their killing techniques also differed from extant species and are consistent with 'canine-shear bite' and 'stabbing' models, respectively. Extremely high BFQ in the marsupial lion, Thylacoleo carnifex, indicates that it filled a large-prey hunting niche.
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              Requirements for comparing the performance of finite element models of biological structures.

              The widespread availability of three-dimensional imaging and computational power has fostered a rapid increase in the number of biologists using finite element analysis (FEA) to investigate the mechanical function of living and extinct organisms. The inevitable rise of studies that compare finite element models brings to the fore two critical questions about how such comparative analyses can and should be conducted: (1) what metrics are appropriate for assessing the performance of biological structures using finite element modeling? and, (2) how can performance be compared such that the effects of size and shape are disentangled? With respect to performance, we argue that energy efficiency is a reasonable optimality criterion for biological structures and we show that the total strain energy (a measure of work expended deforming a structure) is a robust metric for comparing the mechanical efficiency of structures modeled with finite elements. Results of finite element analyses can be interpreted with confidence when model input parameters (muscle forces, detailed material properties) and/or output parameters (reaction forces, strains) are well-documented by studies of living animals. However, many researchers wish to compare species for which these input and validation data are difficult or impossible to acquire. In these cases, researchers can still compare the performance of structures that differ in shape if variation in size is controlled. We offer a theoretical framework and empirical data demonstrating that scaling finite element models to equal force: surface area ratios removes the effects of model size and provides a comparison of stress-strength performance based solely on shape. Further, models scaled to have equal applied force:volume ratios provide the basis for strain energy comparison. Thus, although finite element analyses of biological structures should be validated experimentally whenever possible, this study demonstrates that the relative performance of un-validated models can be compared so long as they are scaled properly.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                JZO
                Journal of Zoology
                Wiley-Blackwell
                09528369
                14697998
                July 2009
                July 2009
                : 278
                : 3
                : 181-188
                Article
                10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00567.x
                5f790b5c-cfb7-4996-9c6e-bf4c1b3816c3
                © 2009

                http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/tdm_license_1.1

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