Data from: Directional selection in the evolution of elongated upper canines in clouded leopards and sabre-toothed cats
Harano, Tomohiro; Kutsukake, Nobuyuki (2018), Data from: Directional selection in the evolution of elongated upper canines in clouded leopards and sabre-toothed cats, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2vd6386
Extremely developed or specialised traits such as the elongated upper canines of extinct sabre-toothed cats are often not analogous to those of any extant species, which limits our understanding of their evolutionary cause. However, an extant species may have undergone directional selection for a similar extreme phenotype. Among living felids, the clouded leopard, Neofelis nebulosa, has exceptionally long upper canines for its body size. We hypothesised that directional selection generated the elongated upper canines of clouded leopards in a manner similar to the process in extinct sabre-toothed cats. To test this, we developed an approach that compared the effect of directional selection among lineages in a phylogeny using a simulation of trait evolution and approximate Bayesian computation. This approach was applied to analyse the evolution of upper canine length in the Felidae phylogeny. Our analyses consistently showed directional selection favouring longer upper canines in the clouded leopard lineage and a lineage leading to the sabre-toothed cat with the longest upper canines, Smilodon. Most of our analyses detected an effect of directional selection for longer upper canines in the lineage leading to another sabre-toothed cat, Homotherium, although this selection may have occurred exclusively in the primitive species. In all the analyses, the clouded leopard and Smilodon lineages showed comparable directional selection. This implies that clouded leopards share a selection advantage with sabre-toothed cats in having elongated upper canines.