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Ecomorphology of the cervid calcaneus as a proxy for paleoenvironmental reconstruction

Gruwier, Ben J. and Kovarovic, Kris (2022) 'Ecomorphology of the cervid calcaneus as a proxy for paleoenvironmental reconstruction.', The Anatomical Record, 305 (9). pp. 2207-2226.


This study presents new ecomorphological models for the cervid calcaneus that can be used to make predictions about the nature of ancient environments. Using geometric morphometrics to quantitatively assess the length of the articular surface supporting the malleolus, the length and orientation of the tuber calcanei, and the position of the articular facets, we aimed to establish correlations between morphological traits, locomotor behavior, and environmental parameters in extant cervids. The morphology of the calcaneus was found to primarily vary with locomotor strategy and habitat, along a continuum from habitats with an open vegetation structure to habitats with a closed vegetation structure. Confounding factors, including sexual dimorphism, allometry, and phylogeny were accounted for using Principal Component Analysis, regressions and phylogenetic comparative methods. The results of our analyses suggested that these factors did not substantially obscure habitat predictions. As such, the calcaneus provides a valuable proxy for paleoenvironmental reconstruction that is broadly applicable to Quaternary fossil assemblages with a sufficiently large sample of cervids.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Gruwier, Ben J. & Kovarovic, Kris (2022). Ecomorphology of the cervid calcaneus as a proxy for paleoenvironmental reconstruction. The Anatomical Record 305(9): 2207-2226., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.
Date accepted:08 November 2021
Date deposited:06 December 2021
Date of first online publication:26 November 2021
Date first made open access:26 November 2022

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