Life in Burrows Channelled the Morphological Evolution of the Skull in Rodents: the Case of African Mole-Rats Bathyergidae, RodentiaReport as inadecuate

Life in Burrows Channelled the Morphological Evolution of the Skull in Rodents: the Case of African Mole-Rats Bathyergidae, Rodentia - Download this document for free, or read online. Document in PDF available to download.

* Corresponding author 1 CR2P - Centre de recherche sur la Paléobiodiversité et les Paléoenvironnements 2 University of South Bohemia, 370 05 Ceske Budejovice 3 Laboratoire de paléontologie

Abstract : African mole-rats are fossorial rodents that consist of five chisel-tooth digging genera Heterocephalus, Heliophobius, Georychus, Fukomys, and Cryptomys and one scratch digger Bathyergus. They are characterized by striking physiological, morphological, and behavioral adaptations intimately related to their subterranean life. The influence of their mode of life in shaping the cranial morphology has yet to be evaluated in comparison to other Ctenohystrica, especially fossorial genera, which include the subterranean genera Spalacopus and Ctenomys. In our study, we seek to determine to what extent subterranean life affects the morpho-functional properties of the skull among fossorial ctenohystricans. 3D geometric morphometric analyses were performed on 277 skulls, encompassing 63 genera of Ctenohystrica, and complemented by biomechanical studies. African mole-rats and other subterranean Ctenohystrica, especially chisel-tooth diggers, have a short snout, a wide cranium with enlarged zygomatic arches, and a strongly hystricognathous mandible. Even if convergences are also manifest between most fossorial Ctenohystrica, subterranean rodents departed from the main ctenohystrican allometric trends in having a skull shape less size-dependent, but under stronger directional selection with intense digging activity as a major constraint. African mole-rats, notably chisel-tooth diggers, show important mechanical advantage for the temporalis muscles favoring higher forces at the bite point, while mechanical advantage of the superficial masseter muscles is lower compared to other Ctenohystrica. If subterranean species can be clearly discriminated based on their skull morphology, the intrinsic mosaic of anatomical characters of each genus e.g., skull, teeth, and muscles can be understood only in the light of their ecology and evolutionary history.

Keywords : Masticatory apparatus Ctenohystrica Geometric morphometrics Subterranean Fossorial Biomechanics

Author: Helder Gomes Rodrigues - Radim Šumbera - Lionel Hautier -



Related documents