Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: July 2014

6 - What's the difference? A multiphasic allometric analysis of fossil and living lions

Summary

Introduction

Differentiating between various species in the fossil record is one of the most vital tasks in paleontology. As such, evaluating the morphological features that we use to make these taxonomic distinctions is critical. Without any confirmation from molecular lines of evidence, morphological analyses are the only option for such studies. Determining the validity and independence of character changes is a major part of that evaluation. Compounding this limitation to morphological analyses is the fact that assembling a significant sample size of fossil specimens for a single taxon is frequently very difficult, if not impossible. Often, paleontologists compare a single fossil specimen with a single specimen of a closely related extant taxon or representatives of several such taxa. Analyses of this nature, while valuable first glimpses, do not account for variation within populations (of either the fossil or the extant groups), and therefore may result in inaccurate conclusions regarding the relationships of the organisms in question. In this chapter, I present an example of a species–status conflict within the pantherine felids and use allometric analyses to evaluate some of the morphological characteristics that have been used as evidence to support arguments in this conflict.

Since its first official use by Pocock (1930), the generic designation of Panthera for the clade consisting of the lion (P. leo), tiger (P. tigris), leopard (P. pardus), jaguar (P. onca), and now the snow leopard (P. uncia) has reached standard usage. However, the attribution of species or subspecies status below the rank of genus has not been so readily settled, especially for fossil groups that seem to show a relationship to one of the extant pantherine cats. One of these fossil groups is the ‘American lion’ (Panthera leo cf. atrox). There has been some argument regarding the nature of the relationship of P. atrox and P. spelea (the ‘cave lion’) within Panthera, and several authors have maintained a P. tigris or P. onca affinity for P. atrox (e.g. Simpson, 1941; Groiss, 1996).

References
Akaike, H. (1974). New look at statistical-model identification. Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Transactions on Automatic Control, AC19, 716–23.
Barry, J. C. (1987). Large carnivores (Canidae, Hyaenidae, Felidae) from Laetoli. In Laetoli: A Pliocene Site in Northern Tanzania, ed. Leakey, M. D. and Harris, J. M.. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 235–59.
Bona, F. (2006). Systematic position of a complete lion-like cat skull from the Eemian ossiferous rubble near Zandobbio (Bergamo, North Italy). Rivista Italiana Di Paleontologia E Stratigrafia, 112, 157–66.
Burger, J., Rosendahl, W., Loreille, O., et al. (2004). Molecular phylogeny of the extinct cave lion Panthera leo spelaea. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 30, 841–49.
Dubach, J., Patterson, B. D., Briggs, M. B., et al. (2005). Molecular genetic variation across the southern and eastern geographic ranges of the African lion, Panthera leo. Conservation Genetics, 6, 15–24.
Groiss, J. T. (1996). Der höhlentiger panthera Tigris spelaea (Goldfuss). Neues Jahrbuch Fur Geologie Und Palaontologie-Monatshefte, 7, 399–414.
Haas, S. K., Hayssen, V. and Krausman, P. R. (2005). Panthera leo. Mammalian Species, 762, 1–11.
Hammer, Ø. and Harper, D. A. T. (2006). Paleontological Data Analysis, 1st ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Harington, C. R. (1969). Pleistocene remains of lion-like cat (Panthera atrox) from Yukon Territory and Northern Alaska. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 6, 1277–88.
Harington, C. R. (1971). Pleistocene lion-like cat (Panthera atrox) from Alberta. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 8, 170–74.
Harington, C. R. (1977). Pleistocene Mammals of the Yukon Territory. Edmonton, Alberta: Department of Zoology, University of Alberta, p. 1060.
Hemmer, H. (1974). Untersuchungen zur Stammesgeschichte der Pantherkatzen (Pantherinae) Teil iii: zur Artgeschichte des Löwen Panthera (Panthera) leo (Linnaeus 1758). Veröffentlichungen der Zoologischen Staatssammlung München, 17, 167–280.
Hemmer, H. (1979). Fossil history of living felidae. Carnivore, 2, 58–61.
Herrington, S. J. (1987). Subspecies and the conservation of Panthera tigris: preserving genetic heterogeneity. In Tigers of the World: The Biology, Biopolitics, Management, and Conservation of an Endangered Species, ed. Tilson, R. L. and Seal. Park, U. S.. Ridge, NJ: Noyes Publications, pp. 51–62.
Jacobson, A. G. (1993). Somitomeres: mesodermal segments of the head and trunk. In The Skull, ed. Hall, B. K. and Hanken, J.. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, pp. 42–76.
Kurtén, B. (1985). The Pleistocene lion of Beringia. Annales Zoologici Fennici, 22, 117–21.
Kurtén, B. and Anderson, E. (1980). Pleistocene Mammals of North America, 1. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Langille, R. M. and Hall, B. K. (1993). Pattern formation and the neural crest. In The Skull, ed. Hanken, J. and Hall, B. K.. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, pp. 77–111.
Leidy, J. (1853). Description of an extinct species of American lion: Felis atrox. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 10, 319–21.
Lemon, R. R. H. and Churcher, C. S. (1961). Pleistocene geology and paleontology of the Talara region, northwest Peru. American Journal of Science, 259, 410–29.
Martin, L. D. and Gilbert, B. M. (1978). An American lion, Panthera atrox, from natural trap cave, north central Wyoming. Contributions to Geology, 16, 95–101.
McKinney, M. L. and McNamara, K. J. (1991). Heterochrony: The Evolution of Ontogeny, New York, NY: Plenum Press.
Merriam, J. C. and Stock, C. (1932). The Felidae of Rancho La Brea, 1st ed. Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Petter, G. (1973). Carnivores pleistocène du ravin d'olduvai. In Fossil Vertebrates of Africa, ed. Leakey, L. S. B., Savage, R. J. G. and Coryndon, S. C.. London: Academic Press, pp. 43–100.
Pocock, R. I. (1930). The lions of Asia. Journal of the Bombay Natural Historical Society, 34, 638–65.
PSI-Plot (2002). Scientific Spreadsheet and Technical Plotting. Pearl River, NY: PolySoftware International.
Simpson, G. G. (1941). Large Pleistocene felines of North America. American Museum Novitates, 1136, 1–27.
Smuts, G. L., Anderson, J. L. and Austin, J. C. (1978). Age-determination of African lion (Panthera leo). Journal of Zoology, 185, 115–46.
Sokal, R. R. and Rohlf, F. J. (1995). Biometry: The Principles and Practice of Statistics in Biological Research, 3rd ed. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman and Company.
Sotnikova, M. and Nikolskiy, P. (2006). Systematic position of the cave lion Panthera spelaea (Goldfuss) based on cranial and dental characters. Quaternary International, 142, 218–28.
Sunquist, M. and Sunquist, F. (2002). Wild Cats of the World. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Vereshchagin, N. K. (1971). The cave lion and its history in the Holarctic and on the territory of the U.S.S.R. Trudy of Zoological Institute, 49, 123–99.
Vrba, E. S. (1998). Multiphasic growth models and the evolution of prolonged growth exemplified by human brain evolution. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 190, 227–39.
Warton, D. I. and Weber, N. C. (2002). Common slope tests for bivariate errors-in-variables models. Biometrical Journal, 44, 161–74.
Warton, D. I., Wright, I. J., Falster, D. S. and Westoby, M. (2006). Bivariate line-fitting methods for allometry. Biological Reviews, 81, 259–91.
Yamaguchi, N., Cooper, A., Werdelin, L. and Macdonald, D. W. (2004). Evolution of the mane and group-living in the lion (Panthera leo): a review. Journal of Zoology, 263, 329–42.