Role of development in the evolution of the scapula of the giant sthenurine kangaroos (Macropodidae: Sthenurinae)

Karen E. Sears

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Extinct giant sthenurine kangaroos possessed scapulae morphologically distinct from those of all other extant and extinct adult macropodids, but qualitatively resembling those of newborn macropodids. The similarity between adult sthenurine and neonatal macropodid scapulae suggests that a developmental process, such as heterochrony, might have been behind the evolution of the unique sthenurine scapular morphology. By incorporating adult and ontogenetic data, this study examines the evolution and development of the sthenurine scapula. This study quantitatively upholds the previous qualitative morphological observations of macropodid scapulae and finds that ontogenetic and evolutionary morphological changes are correlated in macropodids. The similarity of scapula morphology in sthenurines and newborn macropodids, the correlation between ontogenetic and evolutionary morphological change, and information from other sources (i.e., sthenurine evolutionary history) suggests that pedomorphic shifts in morphology, most likely due to neotenic processes, occurred within the development of the scapula of giant sthenurines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-236
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Morphology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2005


  • Heterochrony
  • Macropodidae
  • Ontogeny
  • Pedomorphosis
  • Scapula
  • Sthenurinae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Developmental Biology

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