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Data from: The development of integration in marsupial and placental limbs

Cite this dataset

Kelly, E. McKenna; Marcot, Jonathan D.; Selwood, Lynne; Sears, Karen E. (2020). Data from: The development of integration in marsupial and placental limbs [Dataset]. Dryad.


The morphological interdependence of traits, or their integration, is commonly thought to influence their evolution. As such, study of morphological integration and the factors responsible for its generation form an important branch of the field of morphological evolution. However, most research to date on post-cranial morphological integration has focused on adult patterns of integration. This study investigates patterns of correlation (i.e., morphological integration) among skeletal elements of the fore- and hind limbs of developing marsupial and placental mammals. The goals of this study are to establish how patterns of limb integration vary over development in marsupials and placentals, and identify factors that are likely responsible for their generation. Our results indicate that although the overall pattern of correlation among limb elements is consistent with adult integration throughout mammalian development, correlations vary at the level of the individual element and stage. As a result, the relative integration among fore- and hind limb elements varies dynamically between stages during development in both marsupial and placental mammals. Therefore, adult integration studies of the limbs may not be indicative of developmental integration. Results are also consistent with integration during early limb development being more heavily influenced by genetic and developmental factors, and later by function. Additionally, results are generally consistent with a constraint on marsupial forelimb evolution caused by the functional requirements of the crawl to the teat that operates by limiting morphological variation before and at the time of birth, and not after.

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