Sexual dimorphism of craniological characters in badgers
Volume 244, Issue 1 , 15 August 2005, Pages 11-29
An analysis of 30 craniological characters of Eurasian badgers (Meles spp.) revealed different levels of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) and geographic variation in the three different species.
SSD is displayed mostly in the general length, width and height of the skull and the height and length of the mandible, and the length of the upper molar. The most stable size dimorphism is in the size of the canines, which is pronounced in all studied samples.
We examined the European badgers, Meles meles, and the Asian badgers, Meles leucurus. The most pronounced SSD is in the Transcaucasian form of Meles meles and the Far-Eastern form of Meles leucurus.
In the large European form of Meles meles, SSD is less pronounced in both absolute and relative criteria than in the smaller Transcaucasian form.
An analogous situation is observed in the larger Siberian and smaller Far-Eastern forms of Meles leucurus.
In the Japanese badgers, Meles anakuma, a downsizing of the skull is accompanied by a decrease in SSD in comparison to the continental species.
The significant differences in the manifestation of SSD in the Eurasian badgers support an earlier hypothesis that Meles meles, Meles leucurus, and Meles anakuma are separate species.
The differences in the level of SSD among and within these three species of badgers may be attributed not to differences in the diet or social structure, but to the history of speciation events and formation of intraspecific distribution ranges.
Meles meles; Meles leucurus; Meles anakuma; Badgers; Sexual size dimorphism; Skull