Functional Anatomy of the Forelimb Muscles of the Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)

Emily Julik, Shawn P Zack, Brent Adrian, Saaiqa Maredia, Arman Parsa, Meifawn Poole, Adam Starbuck, Rebecca E. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The myology of most members of the cat family (Felidae) is poorly documented. This study describes the forelimb myology of the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and compares the forelimb anatomy of the ocelot to that of other well-documented felids (Felis catus, Panthera leo). A substantial number of myological features vary among the three species and are distributed in a manner consistent with major ecomorphological variables (prey size preference and locomotor repertoire). The origin of m. triceps brachii caput longum is most extensive in Panthera leo, consistent with the fact that this species pursues prey over greater distances compared to F. catus or L. pardalis. In addition, the origins and insertions of the pronator and supinator musculature are reduced in Felis catus, which has little need to supinate during locomotion or prey capture. Furthermore, muscles serving the digits are best developed in the lion and ocelot, both of which make greater use of the forelimb for grasping and manipulation than does the domestic cat. However, while the lion probably retains the primitive morphology for the family, the ocelot shows evidence of secondary adaptation to increased mobility of the digits. Overall, results indicate that additional studies of felid forelimb myology are warranted, as they are likely to provide valuable functional insights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-304
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Mammalian Evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Ecomorphology
  • Felidae
  • Forelimb
  • Myology
  • Ocelot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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