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Felid form and function

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... A number of studies have found interspecific variations in craniodental and mandibular morphology which were associated with feeding ecology across force but instead permits a wider gape and a faster jaw closure (Greaves, 1983;Preuschoft & Witzel, 2005). The distance from the jaw joint to a certain point of tooth should covary with the length of snout or jaw, number of teeth and size of individual tooth, all of which show variation among carnivorans (Asahara et al., 2016;Christiansen & Adolfssen, 2005;Kitchener et al., 2010;Kitchener et al., 2017;Radinsky, 1981aRadinsky, , 1981bVan Valkenburgh, 1989). Thus, the outlever length can vary greatly among carnivoran species. ...
... Carnivorans that hunt large prey are most commonly found in the family Felidae (Carbone et al., 1999;Macdonald et al., 2010). Felids generally have shorter snouts than other carnivorans, resulting in a shorter outlever to canines (Kitchener et al., 2010). Unlike canids that rely on bites to capture and kill prey, felids use their flexible forelimbs with retractile claws to capture prey (Meachen-Samuels & Van Valkenburgh, 2009a, 2009bTaylor, 1989), so providing a strong killing bite at the expense of biting speed may be advantageous, even when hunting small prey. ...
... However, larger felids primarily feed on relatively large prey (Macdonald et al., 2010) and have proportionally longer shouts than smaller felids (Sicuro, 2011;Slater & Van Valkenburgh, 2008;Tamagnini et al., 2017). Felids typically use a suffocating throat or muzzle bite to kill large prey (Christiansen & Wroe, 2007;Kitchener et al., 2010), requiring a sufficient clearance between the upper and lower canines to hold the throat or muzzle of the prey ). Larger felids tend to have longer canines relative to their body size (Van Valkenburgh & Ruff, 1987) and exhibit a wider gape (Christiansen & Adolfssen, 2005;, necessary for efficient biting with elongated canines (Christiansen, 2006). ...
Article
Species in the mammalian order Carnivora have extremely diverse diets. The association between diet and craniodental morphology in carnivorans has been the subject of a number of studies. The distance from the jaw joint to the tooth positions may contribute to the ability to acquire and process food because it corresponds to the outlever arm when the jaw functions as a lever to generate a bite force. A shorter outlever arm relative to the inlever arm of the masticatory muscle generates a higher bite force. This study measured the distances from the jaw joint to different points of the teeth as the outlever lengths in the crania of terrestrial Carnivora species to show that outlever lengths corrected for phylogeny and a measure of the inlever length differ according to dietary habits among carnivorans. The distance from the jaw joint to the last molar was shortest in folivores, followed by aquatic prey specialists, suggesting that consumption of tough plant materials and, to some extent, aquatic prey with hard exoskeletons has favoured the evolution of a shorter outlever to allow stronger bites with enlarged molars. In contrast, among Canidae species, a shorter outlever to canines was associated with feeding on large prey, but this association was not found across carnivorans, suggesting that the correlated evolution of a shorter outlever at the canines and specialization for feeding on large prey depends on foraging and hunting behaviours. Combined, these findings provide some evidence that distances from the jaw joint to different points of the teeth are adapted to different feeding ecologies in carnivorans. In craniodental morphology, the distance from the jaw joint to the teeth corresponds to the outlever arm when the jaw functions as a lever to generate a bite force, with a shorter outlever converting more muscle force into bite force. We performed phylogenetic comparative analyses to show that the outlever lengths at different points of the teeth in the cranium differ according to dietary habits in the mammalian order Carnivora. This study provides evidence for adaptations of the distance from the jaw joint to the teeth to different feeding ecologies in Carnivora.
... This trait results in a fluid walking motion. Soft toe pads ensure a silent, firm grip during stalking and final approach to prey, and when climbing with or without claws (Kitchener et al. 2010). The evolution of these features has resulted in an animal that is quick, agile, and strong. ...
... A cat's skull is highly domed, the cheek bones (or zygomatic arches) are wide, the face is foreshortened, and the sagittal crest (or ridge of bones on top of the skull) provide an attachment point for powerful jaw muscles (Kitchener et al. 2010). These muscles increase the bite force of the canine teeth. ...
... A bite on the nape of the neck, typical for smaller prey, involves dislocation of cervical vertebrae and severing of the spinal cord by the canines. For larger prey, a throat-or snoutcovering bite is used, both of which typically kill by suffocation and may not even break the skin of the prey (Kitchener et al. 2010). ...
Technical Report
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This SSA evaluates the current status of the Florida panther as well as an assessment on the risk of extinction in the future. This SSA applies the conservation biology principles of resiliency, redundancy, and representation (the 3 R’s) to evaluate the current and future condition of the Florida panther. Resiliency, redundancy, and representation are interconnected and overlapping principles that collectively contribute to the viability of a species. We also introduce the concept of a fourth “R,” namely resistance, which describes the willingness of people to accept the species on the landscape. Outdoor recreationalists and rural residents may be concerned about sharing wild spaces with a large carnivore; livestock producers may be concerned about economic losses inflicted by predation; landowners may be concerned about whether regulatory burdens accompany panthers; and citizens in general may be concerned about costs associated with recovery initiatives. The SSA provides a compilation of the best available scientific information on the biological status of the Florida panther but it is not a decisional document (does not include any recommendations or decisions regarding the status of the listed entity). The SSA is, however, a stand-alone, science-focused assessment for use in policy-guided decisions under the ESA and to inform future Florida panther conservation and management efforts.
... This trait results in a fluid walking motion. Soft toe pads ensure a silent, firm grip during stalking and final approach to prey, and when climbing with or without claws (Kitchener et al. 2010). The evolution of these features has resulted in an animal that is quick, agile, and strong. ...
... A cat's skull is highly domed, the cheek bones (or zygomatic arches) are wide, the face is foreshortened, and the sagittal crest (or ridge of bones on top of the skull) provide an attachment point for powerful jaw muscles (Kitchener et al. 2010). These muscles increase the bite force of the canine teeth. ...
... A bite on the nape of the neck, typical for smaller prey, involves dislocation of cervical vertebrae and severing of the spinal cord by the canines. For larger prey, a throat-or snoutcovering bite is used, both of which typically kill by suffocation and may not even break the skin of the prey (Kitchener et al. 2010). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report evaluates the current status of the Florida panther as well as an assessment on the risk of extinction in the future. This SSA applies the conservation biology principles of resiliency, redundancy, and representation (the 3 R's) to evaluate the current and future condition of the Florida panther. Also assessed is the concept of a fourth "R," namely resistance, which describes the willingness of people to accept the species on the landscape. The SSA provides a compilation of the best available scientific information on the biological status of the Florida panther, but it is not a decisional document. The SSA is a stand-alone, science-focused assessment for use in policy-guided decisions under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and to inform future Florida panther conservation and management efforts.
... Furthermore, Allosaurus bite force architecture is characterized by high-efficiency fast-biting, as is common especially to rippers (Hertel, 1994;Sakamoto, 2010). In felids, cranial size is sacrificed to accommodate necessary bite force musculature to kill prey, because food processing stresses drove their evolution (Kitchener et al., 2010, Hartstone-Rose et al., 2012. Evidence suggests that food processing stresses also drove carnosaur evolution, but weak craniodental anatomy strongly suggests they were adapted to fundamentally different ecological roles (Dawkins and Krebs, 1979;Sakamoto, 2010;Sakamoto et al., 2010;Morales and Giannini, 2013). ...
... Evidence suggests that food processing stresses also drove carnosaur evolution, but weak craniodental anatomy strongly suggests they were adapted to fundamentally different ecological roles (Dawkins and Krebs, 1979;Sakamoto, 2010;Sakamoto et al., 2010;Morales and Giannini, 2013). In fact, nearly all modern terrestrial large-prey specialists employ powerful, muscle-driven bite forces to kill prey and there is no reason to expect otherwise of Mesozoic animals (Meers, 2002;Henderson, 2003;Therrien, 2005;Wroe et al., 2005;Christiansen and Adolfssen, 2005;Christiansen et al., 2007;Wroe et al., 2007;Wroe and Milne, 2007;Anderson et al., 2008;Ellis, 2009;Meachen-Samuels & Van Valkenburgh, 2009;Kitchener et al., 2010;Sakamoto et al., 2010;Erickson et al., 2012;Hartstone-Rose et al., 2012;Morales and Giannini, 2013). ...
... For example, felids have a binocular field of view (BFoV) of ca. 130 • (Figure 6), large, forward-facing eyes, curved corneas that maximize visual depth perception, and greatly enhanced low-light vision (Kitchener et al., 2010;Mines and Ochieng, 2017). Selective pressure on felid visual tools is very strong, and even influences retinal cone densities specific to each species' hunting style (Ahnelt et al., 2006). ...
Article
The Morrison Formation of the Late Jurassic Period is characterized by its diverse assemblage of sauropods, several species of which reached the size of modern cetaceans. While much scientific attention has concerned their biology in life, researchers have yet to examine how their massive carcasses may have influenced the evolution of other dinosaurs in their communities, such as theropods. Theropod consumers local to this faunal system are typically described as powerful apex predators at the top of local food webs, but instead, may have been shaped by competition for carrion resources generated as a byproduct of their giant sauropod neighbors. To test this hypothesis, we wrote a series of agent-based simulations (ABS). Specifically, we simulated allosaurid consumer behavior versus spatially distributed sauropod carcass resources such as could be expected in ecosystems like that represented in the Morrison Formation. We incorporated conditions to test how competition among consumers, seasonality, and predation success influenced carnosaur survival both with and without carrion-abundant systems. Trials of the ABS resulted in a strong selective advantage for allosaurs as obligate scavengers because of the high metabolic and survival costs associated with predation of large vertebrates. Allosaurs with increased predatory success over peers failed to succeed competitively unless the probability of scavenging opportunities fell below a certain threshold and a significant proportion of herbivores were available as prey targets, which might not have been the case in sauropod-dominated systems. Our results may explain why carnosaurs like Allosaurus did not evolve powerful bite forces, binocular vision, or advanced cursorial adaptations. Given the enormous supply of sauropod carrion, they were under no resource-based selective pressure to overpower prey and may have evolved as terrestrial vulture analogues. This also may explain why the absence of sauropods in certain environments led to more obvious predatory adaptations in theropods such as tyrannosaurs. Tyrannosaurs may have been forced to meet their energy budgets by hunting, because non-sauropod carrion production was too low to support them passively.
... The sacroiliac joint, firmly connecting the pelvic girdle to the vertebral column, is the center of transmission of quickly with a bite to the spine or head. In contrast, a suffocating throat bite is known to be the usual lethal bite in big cats (e.g., Panthera sp.; Kitchener et al., 2010). However, some Panthera species can switch from typical throat bite to muzzle bite (e.g., P. leo), or at the back of the head (e.g., P. onca; Schaller & Vasconcelos, 1978;Palmeira et al., 2008;Kitchener et al., 2010). ...
... In contrast, a suffocating throat bite is known to be the usual lethal bite in big cats (e.g., Panthera sp.; Kitchener et al., 2010). However, some Panthera species can switch from typical throat bite to muzzle bite (e.g., P. leo), or at the back of the head (e.g., P. onca; Schaller & Vasconcelos, 1978;Palmeira et al., 2008;Kitchener et al., 2010). Although individuals of solitary species catch large prey on their own (Kleiman & Eisenberg, 1973;Macdonald, 1983;Grzimek, 1990;Bailey, Myatt & Wilson, 2013;Gittleman, 2013) some cooperation can occasionally occur (e.g., male cheetahs) by forming stable coalitions (Caro, 1994;Radloff & Du Toit, 2004). ...
... Functionally, we hypothesize that the tightening of the sacroiliac angle has a beneficial effect on predator's ability to subdue large prey. In big cats, the lethal snap bite used for small prey switches to sustained bite for large prey (Schaller & Vasconcelos, 1978;Palmeira et al., 2008;Kitchener et al., 2010). Among all different forces involving the postcranial system during the struggle, producing a momentum opposing the prey escape is crucial to keep the bite grip. ...
Article
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Felidae species show a great diversity in their diet, foraging and hunting strategies, from small to large prey. Whether they belong to solitary or group hunters, the behavior of cats to subdue resisting small or large prey presents crucial differences. It is assumed that pack hunting reduces the per capita risk of each individual. We hypothesize that the sacroiliac articulation plays a key role in stabilizing the predator while subduing and killing prey. Using CT-scan from 59 felid coxal bones, we calculated the angle between both iliac articular surfaces. Correlation of this inter-iliac angle with body size was calculated and ecological stressors were evaluated on inter-iliac angle. Body size significantly influences inter-iliac angle with small cats having a wider angle than big cats. Arboreal species have a significantly larger angle compared to cursorial felids with the smallest value, and to scansorial and terrestrial species with intermediate angles. Felids hunting large prey have a smaller angle than felids hunting small and mixed prey. Within the Panthera lineage, pack hunters (lions) have a larger angle than all other species using solitary hunting strategy. According to the inter-iliac angle, two main groups of felids are determined: (i) predators with an angle of around 40° include small cats (i.e., Felis silvestris, Leopardus wiedii, Leptailurus serval, Lynx Canadensis, L. rufus ; median = 43.45°), the only pack-hunting species (i.e., Panthera leo ; median = 37.90°), and arboreal cats (i.e., L. wiedii, Neofelis nebulosa ; median = 49.05°), (ii) predators with an angle of around 30° include solitary-hunting big cats (i.e., Acinonyx jubatus, P. onca, P. pardus, P. tigris, P. uncia ; median = 31.80°). We suggest different pressures of selection to interpret these results. The tightening of the iliac wings around the sacrum probably enhances big cats’ ability for high speed and large prey control. In contrast, pack hunting in lions reduced the selective pressure for large prey.
... Arboreal primates are hunted by climbing on trees and scaring them to lower branches and then to the ground as seen in the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis Linnaeus, 1758) (Bianchi and Mendes 2007). Kitchener et al. (2010) sequentially divide a typical felid hunt into ambush, detecting prey, stalking and running, catching, killing, processing and eating. While ambush, detecting prey and stalking are typically lowcost activities, running and catching are associated with higher energy costs (Williams et al. 2014). ...
... The fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus Bennett, 1833) and the flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps Vigors et Horsefield, 1827) are exceptional because they are adapted to hunt aquatic prey (Kitchener et al. 2010) compared with terrestrial prey taken by most felids. Morphological adaptations of the fishing cat, such as semi-retractile claws to grip slippery aquatic prey and double-layered fur to prevent the body from getting wet, suggest strong selection for hunting in wetlands (Hunter 2019). ...
Article
The fishing cat’s persistence in a ‘semi-aquatic niche’ suggests the evolution of a successful hunting strategy. We describe it for the first time by analysing 197 camera-trap video-clips, collected from a participatory-science initiative, within an ethogram framework . The cats spent ∼52% of the time sitting and waiting for prey (fishes) to come nearer and took limited attempts to hunt (3.89%) in deeper waters (in which the upper portions of the cat’s body were submerged), where its hunting success was found to be 42.86%. In shallow waters, it adopted a predominantly active mode of hunting (∼96%) to flush out prey.
... Record whether the trachea is intact, being careful not to puncture it while skinning the carcass; canids may bite prey multiple times on the face, neck, skull, hind legs, and other parts of the body (Bowns, 1995;Mech, 1970 Sunquist & Sunquist, 2002), and it is sometimes possible to see the four punctures corresponding to the four canines. Felids also sometimes kill adult large ungulates by enclosing the muzzle of the prey in their mouth and subsequent suffocation (Kitchener et al., 2010;Leyhausen & Tonkin, 1979). ...
Article
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Mortality site investigations of telemetered wildlife are important for cause‐specific survival analyses and understanding underlying causes of observed population dynamics. Yet, eroding ecoliteracy and a lack of quality control in data collection can lead researchers to make incorrect conclusions, which may negatively impact management decisions for wildlife populations. We reviewed a random sample of 50 peer‐reviewed studies published between 2000 and 2019 on survival and cause‐specific mortality of ungulates monitored with telemetry devices. This concise review revealed extensive variation in reporting of field procedures, with many studies omitting critical information for the cause of mortality inference. Field protocols used to investigate mortality sites and ascertain the cause of mortality are often minimally described and frequently fail to address how investigators dealt with uncertainty. We outline a step‐by‐step procedure for mortality site investigations of telemetered ungulates, including evidence that should be documented in the field. Specifically, we highlight data that can be useful to differentiate predation from scavenging and more conclusively identify the predator species that killed the ungulate. We also outline how uncertainty in identifying the cause of mortality could be acknowledged and reported. We demonstrate the importance of rigorous protocols and prompt site investigations using data from our 5‐year study on survival and cause‐specific mortality of telemetered mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in northern California. Over the course of our study, we visited mortality sites of neonates (n = 91) and adults (n = 23) to ascertain the cause of mortality. Rapid site visitations significantly improved the successful identification of the cause of mortality and confidence levels for neonates. We discuss the need for rigorous and standardized protocols that include measures of confidence for mortality site investigations. We invite reviewers and journal editors to encourage authors to provide supportive information associated with the identification of causes of mortality, including uncertainty.
... Lions (Panthera leo), cats with a markedly gregarious character, have aroused the interest of scientific groups investigating their strategies and success in hunting, in which females are the main protagonists [28][29][30][31][32][33]. These tend to organize themselves into groups that pursue their prey (medium-sized mammals, mainly ungulates), while males take an active part in hunting actions when they do not belong to any defined group of congeners or in cases where the prey is of considerable size (buffalo, hippopotamus or elephants, for example) as success lies in the coordinated cooperation of several group members [34]. ...
Article
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The individuals engaged in predation interactions modify their adaptation strategies to improve their efficiency to reach success in the fight for survival. This success is linked to either capturing prey (predator) or escaping (prey). Based on the graphic material available on digital platforms both of public and private access, this research aimed to evaluate the influence of those animal- and environment-dependent factors affecting the probability of successful escape of prey species in case of attack by big cats. Bayesian predictive analysis was performed to evaluate the outcomes derived from such factor combinations on the probability of successful escape. Predator species, age, status at the end of the hunting act, time lapse between first attention towards potential prey and first physical contact, prey species and the relief of the terrain, significantly conditioned (p < 0.05) escape success. Social cooperation in hunting may be more important in certain settings and for certain prey species than others. The most parsimonious model explained 36.5% of the variability in escaping success. These results can be useful to design translatable selective strategies not only seeking to boost predation abilities of domestic felids for pest control, but also, biological antipredator defence in potential domestic prey of big cats.
... However, fishing cats were observed in all habitat types in varying extents. This may be because of their diversification of prey species which also include terrestrial species (Thudugala & Ranawana 2015;Miththapala, 2017) in addition to the prey associated to aquatic habitats (Ganguly & Adhya, 2020;Hunter, 2019;Cutter, 2015;Kitchener et al., 2010;Haque & Vijayan, 1993). There is the possibility of male fishing cats with larger territories crossing the forest patches via shrublands, about which very little is known. ...
Article
Full-text available
Habitat suitability modeling and identification of spatiotemporal niches helps in understanding the ecological requirements of faunal guilds. Small and medium sized felids of wild Sri Lanka include three cat species; fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), jungle cat (Felis chaus) and, rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus). These felids are hyper-carnivorous elusive predators that play important ecological roles in a variety of habitats. We conducted this study to identify the habitat associations of sympatric small and medium sized felids and model the habitat suitability of Maduru Oya National Park (MONP), Sri Lanka. Spatiotemporal niche overlapping and partitioning was also investigated. Species occurrence data were obtained based on the camera trap capture events, direct observations and roadkill records. Modeling was conducted based on the maximum entropy algorithm (MaxEnt) using the software package Maxent (version 3.4.3). The predictive accuracies (ROC) of the selected models were evaluated to be greater than 0.80 (AUC). Distance to water resources (44.9%), Bio1-mean annual temperature (33.6%), and habitat type (Dense dry-mixed forest; 79.8%) were identified as the most important variables contributing to habitat suitability for fishing cat, jungle cat and rusty-spotted cat respectively. We further identified that spatial variation in habitat use facilitates these three species to coexist in MONP despite the significant temporal (activity) overlapping. The outcome of this research will contribute towards future conservation and management. The findings will be useful in comparative studies in Sri Lanka as well as elsewhere in the world. Keywords: Felidae, MaxEnt modeling, ecological niche, resource partitioning, small carnivores Journal of Wildlife and Biodiversity
... The cheetah's skeletal morphology shows a high grade of adaption for high speed [54,55] including a lightweight skeleton. The skull is smaller and thin boned compared to other large felids [56,57]. Control of bone growth in cheetahs may be subject to other regulatory principles than in lions, leading to very thin bones and less hyperostosis. ...
Article
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Captive cheetahs often demonstrate a high incidence of diseases in which vitamin A imbalances are implicated. These can occur even under controlled and optimised feeding regimens, which is why surveillance of vitamin A status is mandatory in the successful health management of cheetahs. Serum levels of the vitamin do not reflect the true vitamin A status and liver tissue analysis is rather impractical for routine application in large felids. A biomarker for evaluating overt and subclinical vitamin A deficiency in cheetahs is needed. This study evaluates whether increased calvarial bone thickness can be detected on routine skull radiographs of vitamin A deficient cheetahs compared to unaffected animals, and secondly, evaluates whether there is increased bone thickness in clinically sound captive cheetahs in general compared to wild-living controls. Bone thickness in the neuro- and splanchnocranium was measured in 138 skull radiographs. Significant thickening of the parietal bones was found in latero-lateral radiographs of immature cheetahs (< 12 months) with vitamin A deficiency. This finding may allow a presumptive diagnosis of hypovitaminosis A in immature cheetahs. A general difference in skull thickness between free-living and captive cheetahs was not found.
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