Data from: Bite of the cats: relationships between functional integration and mechanical performance as revealed by mandible geometry
Piras, Paolo et al. (2013), Data from: Bite of the cats: relationships between functional integration and mechanical performance as revealed by mandible geometry, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.kp8t3
Cat-like carnivorous mammals represent a relatively homogeneous group of species whose morphology appears constrained by exclusive adaptations for meat eating. We present the most comprehensive dataset of extant and extinct cat-like species to test for evolutionary transformations in size, shape and mechanical performance, i.e. von Mises stress and surface traction, of the mandible. Size and shape were both quantified by means of Geometric Morphometrics while mechanical performance was assessed applying Finite Element Models to two dimensional geometry of the mandible. Additionally, we present the first almost complete composite phylogeny of cat-like carnivorans for which well-preserved fossil mandibles are known, including representatives of 35 extant and 59 extinct species of Felidae, Nimravidae and Barbourofelidae. This phylogeny was used to test morphological differentiation, allometry, and covariation of mandible parts within and among clades. After taking phylogeny into account, we found that both allometry and mechanical variables exhibit a significant impact on mandible shape. We also tested if mechanical performance was linked to morphological integration. Mechanical stress at the coronoid process is higher in sabertoothed cats than in any other clade. This is strongly related to the high degree of covariation within modules of sabertooths mandibles. We found significant correlation between integration at the clade level and per-clade averaged stress values, on both original data and by partialling out interclade allometry from shapes when calculating integration. This suggests a strong interaction between natural selection and the evolution of developmental and functional modules at the clade level.