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

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.

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.

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