Quantitative classification of metapodial bones of Ursus spelaeus and Ursus arctos from Northwestern Iberia using multivariate analysis
Keywords:Ursus spelaeus, Ursus arctos, metapodial bones, multivariate statistics, Pleistocene
AbstractCave and browns bears lived sympatrically during the Late Pleistocene in Northwestern Iberia. Their bones have been easily identified qualitatively, but new evidences regarding the hybridization of both species made a quantitative approach necessary, in order to detect hybrids with intermediate morphologies. In this work we use measurements of 273 metapodials of both species to classify them in one of the two with multivariate statistics. We found that it was indeed possible to differentiate them through their metapodials, as previous studies have shown, but we also found that metatarsals discriminate both species better than metacarpals, unlike previous studies with multivariate morphometrics. Only one specimen of the 273 analyzed, which was qualitatively classified as U. spelaeus, is consistently placed as U. arctos. Our results open the gates for finding putative hybrids in the future with this method and allow us to better classify previously known material.