Larger wild felids exhibit longer dental skeletons
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Extant members of the cat family (Felidae) have been considered morphologically skull conservative, i.e., despite great differences in size, there is relatively little variation in the cranial shape. Consequently, felids tend to show isometry(skull shape scales in a linear fashion with the skull size).
However, although other researches have considered the role of shape, the allometry on the different cranial anatomical points has not normally been investigated. Here, we apply geometric morphometric methods in a sample of 40 skulls from adult specimens of different wild species belonging to the family Felidae, basing the study on 14 homologous landmarks on the lateral aspect of the skull, to assess the significance of allometry. No allometric effect of skull size on general skull shape could be discerned, but based on individual analysis of the different landmarks analysed, it was evident that variables on splachnocranium -and specially those related to teeth series- did show a positive allometry with skull size. These facial landmarks are those related to feeding and acquiring prey and, thus, bigger skulls (larger wild cats) will tend to present longer dental skeletons.