The femur of extinct bunodont otters in Africa (Carnivora, Mustelidae, Lutrinae)

Margaret E. LEWIS

en Comptes Rendus Palevol 7 (8) - Pages 607-627

Published on 31 December 2008

This article is a part of the thematic issue African Carnivora from the Middle Miocene to the Pleistocene: New data, systematics, evolution, biogeography

This study compares fossil femora attributed to extinct African bunodont lutrines with extant mustelids and ursids to reconstruct locomotor behavior. Due to the immense size differences among taxa, shape data were used to compare morphology. Based on morphological differences, the fossil femora are suggested to belong to different taxa with different locomotor abilities and habitat preferences. The Langebaanweg femur is the oldest and has a typical mustelid morphology suggesting that it was a locomotor generalist like most mustelids. The West Turkana form is more like extant nonbunodont otters, but much larger, and may have belonged to a semiaquatic taxon. The enormous Omo femur shares some features with truly aquatic taxa (e.g., Enhydra) and is the most likely to have been fully aquatic. The same may hold true for the Hadar species as it is most similar to that from the Omo. If these femora truly belong to bunodont lutrines, then they are more diverse in postcranial morphology than in dental morphology.


Fossil, Omo, Hadar, West Turkana, Langebaanweg, Enhydriodon, Sivaonyx

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