Functional tradeoffs in specialization for fighting versus running
Both locomotion and fighting are critical to survival and reproductive fitness in many vertebrate species. Yet, characters that make an individual good at fighting may, in many cases, limit locomotor performance and vice versa. Here I describe tests of three functional tradeoffs in the limb muscles of two breeds of domestic dogs that have undergone intense artificial selection for running (Greyhound) or fighting performance (Pit Bull). We found that Greyhounds differ from Pit Bulls in having relatively less muscle mass distally in their limbs, weaker muscles in their forelimbs than their hindlimbs, and a much greater capacity for elastic storage in the in-series tendons of the extensor muscles of their anlde joints. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that specialization for rapid or economical running can limit fighting performance and vice versa. Variation in body form among dog breeds has been suggested to be largely a consequence of selection on the ontogenetic variation present in individual wolf-like dogs (Wayne, 1986a,b). This, plus recent work on the genetics of the caned skeleton, raise the possibility that pit bulls are a breed that has evolved by the retention of juvenile shape (i.e., neoteny) and greyhounds may represent an acceleration of shape ontogeny. Finally, functional tradeoffs that prevent simultaneous evolution of optimal performance in both locomotor and fighting abilities appear to be widespread taxonomically and may have been particularly important in the evolution of hominid anatomy and physiology.
Carrier, D. R. (2002). Functional tradeoffs in specialization for fighting versus running, in Topics in Functional and Ecological Vertebrate Morphology, P. Aerts, K. DAout, A. Herrel, and R. Van Damme (eds.), Shaker Publishing, 237-55.