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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Functional Morphology of Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris spp.) Forelimbs with Respect to Tool-Use

  • Author(s): Hupka, Brandon Dean
  • Advisor(s): Van Valkenburgh, Blaire
  • et al.

The superfamily Musteloidea represents an ecologically and morphologically diverse collection of mammals. Lutrinae, the subfamily within Musteloidea that contains otters, includes 13 extant species across five continents in a variety of (semi-)aquatic/marine environments. Besides elucidating musculature, skeletal structures can provide evidence for behavior and ecology. In this study, we use linear measurements and 2-dimensional geometric morphometric analysis of the three forelimb long-bones (humerus, radius, and ulna) from eight species of extant otters, as well as a number of subspecies, to observe whether unique tool-use behavior of sea otters can be analytically captured and differentiated from other otters.

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