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Are long digits correlated with high forepaw dexterity? A comparative test in terrestrial carnivores (Carnivora)

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The relationship between manus proportions and forepaw dexterity in 33 species of carnivores (Carnivora) was examined. Both the analysis of "raw" data and independent contrasts revealed no significant correlation between the metacarpal–phalanx (MCP) ratio and forepaw dexterity. This result was corroborated by a common origins test, which indicated that changes in the MCP ratio were not coincident with changes in forepaw dexterity throughout carnivore evolution. Together, these results suggest that the morphological basis for variations in manipulative behaviour may be quite complex. Other morphological features, such as manus and carpal shape and myology, may play a critical role in forepaw dexterity, but are not manifested as changes in manus proportions. Behavioural observations also suggest that manus proportions may be correlated more closely with locomotion rather than non-locomotory forepaw usage.

La relation entre les proportions de la main et la dextérité de la patte antérieure ont été examinées chez 33 espèces de carnivores (Carnivora). L'analyse des données brutes et des comparaisons indépendantes ont révélé qu'il n'y a pas de corrélation significative entre le rapport métacarpe–phalange (MCP) et la dextérité de la patte antérieure. Ce résultat a été corroboré par un test sur les origines communes qui a démontré que des modifications du rapport MCP ne correspondaient pas à des changements évolutifs de la dextérité de la patte antérieure chez les carnivores. Dans leur ensemble, ces résultats indiquent que la base morphologique des variations du comportement de manipulation peut être très complexe. D'autres caractères morphologiques, tels que la forme et la myologie de la main et du carpe, peuvent jouer un rôle primordial dans la dextérité de la patte antérieure, mais ne se manifestent pas nécessairement par des modifications des proportions de la main. Des observations du comportement indiquent également que les proportions de la main sont en corrélation plus étroite avec la locomotion qu'avec l'utilisation non locomotrice de la patte antérieure.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2001

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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