Comparative vertebral morphology in medium-sized North American artiodactyla

Angela Marie Chavez, University of Texas at El Paso


Vertebrae are one of the few skeletal elements that are rarely utilized to identify species. This study examined vertebrae of seven species of North American hoofed mammals (Order Artiodactyla) in an attempt to identify characters useful for identification. Species used were Antilocapra americana (Antilocapridae); Odocoileus hemionus, Odocoileus virginianus, and Rangifer tarandus (Cervidae); and Ovis canadensis, Ovis aries, and Capra hircus (Bovidae). Cervical vertebrae were the most easily identifiable and provided the best characters in determining family. The thoracic vertebrae only separated bovids from cervids, and the lumbar vertebrae identified domestic species from native species. The sacrum was too variable to reliably identify to family. This study concluded that vertebrae can be used to identify families, but are not diagnosable to the species level. ^

Subject Area

Anthropology, Archaeology|Biology, Zoology

Recommended Citation

Chavez, Angela Marie, "Comparative vertebral morphology in medium-sized North American artiodactyla" (2006). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1435349.