Felisa A. Smith, S. Kathleen Lyons, S. K. Morgan Ernest, Kate E. Jones, Dawn M. Kaufman, Tamar Dayan, Pablo A. Marquet, James H. Brown, and John P. Haskell. 2003. Body mass of late Quaternary mammals. Ecology 84:3403.

Data Paper

Ecological Archives E084-094.


Data Files


Working Group on Body Size in Ecology and Paleoecology
National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS)
735 State Street, Suite 300
Santa Barbara, California 93101-5504:

Felisa A. Smith
Department of Biology
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexixo 87131 USA
Email: [email protected]

S. Kathleen Lyons
Department of Biology
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexixo 87131 USA

S. K. Morgan Ernest
Department of Biology
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexixo 87131 USA

Kate E. Jones
Department of Biology
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia 22904 USA

Dawn M. Kaufman
Division of Biology
Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas 66506 USA

Tamar Dayan
Department of Zoology
Tel Aviv University
Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv 69978 Israel

Pablo A. Marquet
Centro de Estudios Avanzados en ecologia y biodiversidad
Departmento de Ecologia

P. Universidad Catolica de Chile
Alameda, 340 C.P. 6513677 Casilla 114-D

James H. Brown
Department of Biology
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexixo 87131 USA

John P. Haskell
Department of Forest, Range, and Wildlife Science
College of Natural Sciences
Utah State University
Logan, Utah 84321


Data Files

Data files are in ASCII format, tab delimited. No compression schemes were used. Data set consists of 5732 records, not including header row.



The purpose of this data set was to compile body mass information for all mammals on Earth so that we could investigate the patterns of body mass seen across geographic and taxonomic space and evolutionary time.  We were interested in the heritability of body size across taxonomic groups (How conserved is body mass within a genus, family, and order?), in the overall pattern of body mass across continents (Do the moments and other descriptive statistics remain the same across geographic space?), and over evolutionary time (How quickly did body mass patterns iterate on the patterns seen today?  Were the Pleistocene extinctions size specific on each continent, and did these events coincide with the arrival of man?).  These data are also part of a larger project that seeks to integrate body mass patterns across very diverse taxa (NCEAS Working Group on Body size in ecology and paleoecology:  linking pattern and process across space, time and taxonomic scales).  We began with the updated version of Wilson and Reeder’s (1993) taxonomic list of all known Recent mammals of the world (N = 4629 species) to which we added status, distribution, and body mass estimates compiled from the primary and secondary literature. Whenever possible, we used an average of male and female body mass, which was in turn averaged over multiple localities to arrive at our species body mass values.  The sources are line referenced in the main data set, with the actual references appearing in a table within the metadata.  Mammals have individual records for each continent they occur on.  Please note that our data set is more than an amalgamation of smaller compilations.  Although we relied heavily a data set for Chiroptera by K. E. Jones (N = 905), the CRC handbook of Mammalian Body Mass (N = 688), and a data set compiled for South America by P. Marquet (N = 505), these total less than half the records in the current database.  The remainder are derived from more than 150 other sources (see reference table).  Furthermore, we include a comprehensive late Pleistocene species assemblage for Africa, North and South America, and Australia (an additional 230 species). “Late Pleistocene” is defined as approximately 11 ka for Africa, North and South America, and as 50 ka for Australia, because these times predate anthropogenic impacts on mammalian fauna. Estimates contained within this data set represent a generalized species value, averaged across gender and geographic space.  Consequently, these data are not appropriate for asking population-level questions where the integration of body mass with specific environmental conditions is important.  All extant orders of mammals are included, as well as several archaic groups (N = 4859 species).  Because some species are found on more than one continent (particularly Chiroptera), there are 5731 entries.  We have body masses for the following:  Artiodactyla (280 records), Bibymalagasia (2 records), Carnivora (393 records), Cetacea (75 records), Chiroptera (1071 records), Dasyuromorphia (67 records), Dermoptera (3 records), Didelphimorphia (68 records), Diprotodontia (127 records), Hydracoidea (5 records), Insectivora (234 records), Lagomorpha (53 records), Litopterna (2 records), Macroscelidea (14 records), Microbiotheria (1 record), Monotremata (7 records), Notoryctemorphia (1 record), Notoungulata (5 records), Paucituberculata (5 records), Peramelemorphia (24 records), Perissodactyla (47 records), Pholidota (8 records), Primates (276 records), Proboscidea (14 records), Rodentia (1425 records), Scandentia (15 records), Sirenia (6 records), Tubulidentata (1 record), and Xenarthra (75 records). 

   Key words: body mass; extinct mammals; late Quaternary; macroecology; taxonomy.

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