A critical survey of vestigial structures in the postcranial skeletons of extant mammals

  • Senter P
  • Moch J
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Abstract

In the Mammalia, vestigial skeletal structures abound but have not previously been the focus of study, with a few exceptions (e.g., whale pelves). Here we use a phylogenetic bracketing approach to identify vestigial structures in mammalian postcranial skeletons and present a descriptive survey of such structures in the Mammalia. We also correct previous misidentifications, including the previous misidentification of vestigial caviid metatarsals as sesamoids. We also examine the phylogenetic distribution of vestigiality and loss. This distribution indicates multiple vestigialization and loss events in mammalian skeletal structures, especially in the hand and foot, and reveals no correlation in such events between mammalian fore and hind limbs.

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Senter, P., & Moch, J. G. (2015). A critical survey of vestigial structures in the postcranial skeletons of extant mammals. PeerJ, 3, e1439. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1439

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