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Monday, June 16, 2008

Studies on Clouded Leopard Skull Morphology
Per Christiansen of the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark has sent us his latest papers detailing his research of clouded leopard and other felid skull morphology. Per studies how the structure of cat skulls influences the way that they kill and feed on prey. He is also interested in the connection between the skull structure of clouded leopards and extinct sabertooth cats.

His papers are pretty technical and include in depth comparisons of measurements of felid skulls. If you are interested in learning more, check out these references:

Canine morphology in the larger Felidae: implications for feeding ecology. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2007, 91, 573-592.

Evolutionary convergence of primitive sabertooth craniomandibular morphology: the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) and Paramachairodus ogygia compared. J Mammal Evol DOI 10.1007/s10914-007-9069-z

This second paper is particularly interesting as in it, Per concludes that the skull of the clouded leopard has diverged significantly in structure from any of its living big cat relatives and is markedly similar to that of the primitive sabertooth cats. Per emphasizes that the reason why the clouded leopard diverged from the rest of its Panthera lineage (with which it shares common ancestry) to take on this more primitive form is unknown. Until the feeding ecology of the clouded leopard is better understood, this will remain an unanswered question.


For information on Per's previous research please visit this news item on the CLP website.

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