In their quest to understand what kind of hunter the extinct marsupial thylacine was, two paleobiologists built a dataset of forelimb bone measurements that predict the predation style of a wide variety of carnivorous mammals. They describe the data in a study posted online in the Journal of Morphology.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — At the start of their research, paleobiologists Christine Janis and Borja Figueirido simply wanted to determine the hunting style of an extinct marsupial called thylacine (also known as the “marsupial wolf” or the “Tasmanian tiger”). In the end, the Australian relic, which has a very dog-like head but both cat- and dog-like features in the skeleton, proved to be uniquely unspecialized, but what emerged from the effort is a new classification system that can capably predict the hunting behaviors of mammals from measurements of just a few forelimb bones. (more…)