Growth and maturation of metatarsals and their taxonomic significance in the jerboas Allactaga and Jaculus (Rodentia: Dipodidae)
Shahin, A. A. B. 2005. Growth and maturation of metatarsals and their taxonomic significance in the jerboas Allactaga and Jaculus (Rodentia: Dipodidae). —Acta Zoologica (Stockholm) 86: 81–90
The development of metatarsals in Allactaga tetradactyla, Jaculus jaculus jaculus and J. orientalis was studied and their taxonomic significance was elucidated. The five metatarsals, as a rule, are developed and ossified in the three species, but variation in the fate of the first and fifth metatarsals was found. Ossification begins in the median part of the metatarsals; however, it appears in the distal part of the digits’ phalanges, beginning with the third phalanx. The first metatarsal appears just distal to the entocuneiform and develops as a small, separate bone located either in close contact with the distal end of the entocuneiform in A. tetradactyla or completely fused with it, forming a compound bone, in both of J. j. jaculus and J. orientalis. The second, third and fourth metatarsals differentiate distal to the mesocuneiform, ectocuneiform and cuboid, respectively, and fuse with one another into a single long cannon bone in all species. Nevertheless, the fifth metatarsal differentiates ventro-lateral to the head of the fourth metatarsal and ossifies ventral to the head process of the developing cannon bone. The fifth metatarsal either extends to articulate with the phalanges of the fourth digit in A. tetradactyla or persists as a separate, small bone in both of J. j. jaculus and J. orientalis. On this basis, it is concluded that J. jaculus and J. orientalis are both distinct congeneric species and are somewhat more distant from A. tetradactyla.