Skip to main content

Data from: Sexual selection on skeletal shape in Carnivora

Cite this dataset

Morris, Jeremy S.; Carrier, David R. (2016). Data from: Sexual selection on skeletal shape in Carnivora [Dataset]. Dryad.


Lifetime reproductive success of males is often dependent upon the ability to physically compete for mates. However, species variation in social structure leads to differences in the relative importance of intraspecific aggression. Here we present a large comparative data set on sexual dimorphism in skeletal shape in Carnivora to test the hypotheses that carnivorans exhibit sexual dimorphism in skeletal anatomy that is reflective of greater specialization for physical aggression in males relative to females and that this dimorphism is associated with the intensity of sexual selection. We tested these hypotheses using a set of functional indices predicted to improve aggressive performance. Our results indicate that skeletal shape dimorphism is widespread within our sample. Functional traits thought to enhance aggressive performance are more pronounced in males. Phylogenetic model selection suggests that the evolution of this dimorphism is driven by sexual selection, with the best-fitting model indicating greater dimorphism in polygynous versus non-polygynous species. Skeletal shape dimorphism is correlated with body size dimorphism, a common indicator of the intensity of male-male competition, but not with mean body size. These results represent the first evidence of sexual dimorphism in the primary locomotor system of a large sample of mammals.

Usage notes