Masters Thesis

Locomotor adaptations in the limb skeletons of North American mustelids

The morphology and proportions of the limb skeletons of thirteen species of North American mustelids are examined. A series of forty-nine ratios is generated for each species. Ratios are analyzed using standard descriptive statistics; mean, standard deviation, variance, standard error, coefficient of variation, and range. Ratios are also analyzed with a closest connection (Prim) network. Qualitative comparisons of appendicular skeletons are made with drawings of each limb element. Progressive specialization from an hypothesized primitive condition to fossorial, arboreal-cursorial, aquatic, and ambulatory modes of locomotion is revealed in limb skeletons of the Mustelidae. Relationships between morphology and proportions of mustelid limb skeletons, and modes of locomotion are discussed.