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Title: Canid evolution and palaeoecology in the Pleistocene of Western Europe, with particular reference to the wolf Canis lupus L. 1758
Author: Flower, Lucy Olivia Holman
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 7942
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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The palaeoecology of a range of Pleistocene canids (Canis etruscus, Canis arnensis, Canis mosbachensis and Canis lupus) was investigated from sites in Britain and mainland Europe. Based on detailed morphometric data, including a suite of dietary-diagnostic cranio-dental measurements, estimates of body mass were made, and palaeodiet examined to elucidate within-species temporal, climatic and regional dietary differences, as well as inter-species palaeodietary differences. Tooth breakage and level of wear were also analysed to further reveal temporal dietary differences. A lack of temporal variability in the diets of C. etruscus and C. mosbachensis is linked here to the relative climatic stability in the Early Pleistocene, associated with a diverse and abundant prey base. The large and species-rich carnivore community of this period constrained the body sizes and prey choices of these canids, in particular competition from larger canids. In contrast, the diet of C. lupus showed much greater temporal variation, likely reflecting the dramatic climatic changes of the late Middle and Late Pleistocene, which led to differences in the openness of the environment as well as changes in large carnivore competition. Body size was also more variable within Pleistocene wolves, with an increasing size trend evident during the Devensian, although within range of their modern counterparts. The flexible and adaptive ecology of C. lupus was thus apparently the key to its tenacity as a species throughout the later Pleistocene and into modern times. Finally, based on morphological, morphometrical and palaeoecological inferences, the wolf evolutionary lineage was examined. Both C. etruscus and C. mosbachensis were considered to be members of the early wolf lineage, whereas C. lupus may have had a separate origination and subsequent dispersal into western Europe. C. mosbachensis was not considered here to be a subspecies of C. lupus due to the overall lack of similarity between the species.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available