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Swerving as the escape strategy of Macrauchenia patachonica Owen (Mammalia; Litopterna)



Swerving as the escape strategy of Macrauchenia patachonica Owen (Mammalia; Litopterna)



Ameghiniana 42(4): 751-760



The Lujanian megamammals (late Pleistocene of South America) show many palaeoautecological peculiarities. The present paper studies one of them, the locomotor habits of Macrauchenia patachonica Owen, through those morphological features related with its possible antipreclation strategy. To avoid predation (especially by the sabre-tooth Smilodon Lund), this large litoptern seems to have been particularly adapted to swerving behaviour. This is suggested by the fact that its limb bones have indicators of higher transverse than anteroposterior strength (significantly so in the case of the femur), a feature which is also observed in modern swervers, and not so clearly in other fast running herbivores that do not use swerving so much.

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