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Showing posts from July, 2007

Jaw biomechanics of Smilodon fatalis 2

I attended the 8th International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology (ICVM8) in Paris last week. There were a lot of interesting talks and I personally felt like I had information over-load!

One talk in particular that I found extremely interesting was that by Adam Hartstone-Rose, a PhD student at Duke University, who had painstakingly collected data of the physiological cross-sectional areas (PCSA) of extant felids, something I've always thought was in dire need. I'm particularly interested in this because this allows us to estimate bite forces in felids to a fair amount of accuracy. The most common source for bite force estimates in mammalian carnivores come from dry skulls which have been shown to underestimate (Thomason 1991). Bite forces estimated from calculations based on PCSA on the other hand seem to be in more congruence with actual in vivo bite forces (Thomason 1991). As there are currently no studies except for Binder and van Valkenburgh (2000) on in vivo bite forces …

Felid skulls

I've been looking at and taking measurements from felid skulls now for a few weeks. I've been up in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland for three days and I've also been at the osteological collections at the Bristol City Museum and Art Galleries for the last week now. I've covered 30 species of the 41 recognised extant felid species.

The funny thing is that some of the older specimens in the Bristol Museum are either mislabeled or not labeled at all and we sat there for some time comparing specimens trying to ID the damned things. I'm starting to pick up some subtle morphological distinctions but it's all kind of useless unless I can link them to the right species. All I need is a list of diagnostic characters...