A second nearly complete skeleton of the fossil ailurid Pristinailurus bristoli was recently recovered from the Hemphillian (late Miocene) Gray Fossil Site of northeast Tennessee. It appears to be significantly larger than the previously known skeleton of P. bristoli, which was surprising as the living red panda Ailurus fulgens is thought to be generally monomorphic, including between sexes. Here the presence of significant size difference in the geometric means of cranial and postcranial measurements and canine area in the two specimens of P. bristoli is tested relative to the distribution of size differences in intersex and intrasex pairs of A. fulgens. The presence of sexual dimorphism in these dimensions is also assessed in A. fulgens using t-tests. We report the first evidence of sexual dimorphism in both upper and lower canine area in A. fulgens. We also found evidence of significantly greater body size difference in the two specimens of P. bristoli than that present in A. fulgens. This could reflect a variety of causes, including the presence of multiple species or subspecies, a greater range of ecologically driven variability, or the presence of sexual dimorphism. We argue tentatively for sexual dimorphism as the most plausible explanation for the apparent size range of P. bristoli.
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Fulwood, Ethan L.; and Wallace, Steven C.. 2015. Evidence for Unusual Size Dimorphism in a Fossil Ailurid. Palaeontologia Electronica. Vol.18(3). https://doi.org/10.26879/526