Anyone with a Long-Face? Craniofacial Evolutionary Allometry (CREA) in a Family of Short-Faced Mammals, the Felidae

Davide Tamagnini, Carlo Meloro, Andrea Cardini

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    15 Citations (Scopus)


    Among adults of closely related species, a trend in craniofacial evolutionary allometry (CREA) for larger taxa to be long-faced and smaller ones to have paedomorphic aspects, such as proportionally smaller snouts and larger braincases, has been demonstrated in some mammals and two bird lineages. Nevertheless, whether this may represent a ‘rule’ with few exceptions is still an open question. In this context, Felidae is a particularly interesting family to study because, although its members are short-faced, previous research did suggest relative facial elongation in larger living representatives. Using geometric morphometrics, based on two sets of anatomical landmarks, and traditional morphometrics, for comparing relative lengths of the palate and basicranium, we performed a series of standard and comparative allometric regressions in the Felidae and its two subfamilies. All analyses consistently supported the CREA pattern, with only one minor exception in the geometric morphometric analysis of Pantherinae: the genus Neofelis. With its unusually long canines, Neofelis species seem to have a relatively narrow cranium and long face, despite being smaller than other big cats. In spite of this, overall, our findings strengthen the possibility that the CREA pattern might indeed be a ‘rule’ among mammals, raising questions on the processes behind it and suggesting future directions for its study.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)476-495
    Number of pages20
    JournalEvolutionary Biology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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