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Quantitative inferences on the locomotor behaviour of extinct species applied to Simocyon batalleri (Ailuridae, Late Miocene, Spain).

Fabre A.-C., M. J. Salesa, R. Cornette, M. Antón. J. Morales and S. Peigné
The Science of Nature 102:30
Conepatus chinga, Mydaus javanensis, Poecilogale albinucha
Inferences of function and ecology in extinct taxa have long been a subject of interest because it is fundamental to understand the evolutionary history of species. In this study, we use a quantitative approach to investigate the locomotor behaviour of Simocyon batalleri, a key taxon related to the ailurid family. To do so, we use 3D surface geometric morphometric approaches on the three long bones of the forelimb of an extant reference sample. Next, we test the locomotor strategy of S. batalleri using a leave-one-out cross-validated linear discriminant analysis. Our results show that S. batalleri is included in the morphospace of the living species of musteloids. However, each bone of the forelimb appears to show a different functional signal suggesting that inferring the lifestyle or locomotor behaviour of fossils can be difficult and dependent on the bone investigated. This highlights the importance of studying, where possible, a maximum of skeletal elements to be able to make robust inferences on the lifestyle of extinct species. Finally, our results suggest that S. batalleri may be more arboreal than previously suggested.