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Postnatal ontogenetic scaling of Nesodontine (Notoungulata, Toxodontidae) cranial morphology

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Cassini G.H., Flores D.A. and Vizcaíno S.F. 2012. Postnatal ontogenetic scaling of Nesodontine (Notoungulata, Toxodontidae) cranial morphology. —Acta Zoologica (Stockholm) 93: 249–259.

Toxodontidae is a clade of endemic South American ungulates that comprises medium to very large animals, including strict megammamals, i.e., 1000 kg or more. Adinotherium at approximately 120 kg and Nesodon at 550 kg are, respectively, the smallest and the largest Nesodontinae of Santacrucian age (early Miocene). The large number of specimens recorded and the quality of preservation (including very young animals) permit a morphometric study of cranial ontogeny. We measured 17 cranial variables on an ontogenetic series of 23 specimens of Adinotherium ovinum and 11 of Nesodon imbricatus. Bivariate analysis (standardized major axis) was performed to obtain the coefficients of allometry using skull length as the independent variable. Results indicate that eight of 16 variables show an isometric trend, seven exhibit positive allometry, and only the height of the orbit in N. imbricatus exhibits negative allometry. Contrary to expectation, neurocranial variables are positively allometric or isometric. With respect to the splanchnocranium, most variables related to the rostrum, palate, and masticatory muscles show positive allometry, suggesting a strengthening of masticatory system in adults of both taxa. The splanchnocranial allometric trends fail to support previous inferences of specialized herbivory, suggesting generalized herbivory in nesodontines.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: División Paleontología Vertebrados, Museo de La Plata, Paseo del Bosque s/n, B1900FWA La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2: Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales ‘Bernardino Rivadavia’, Av. Angel Gallardo 470, C1405DJR Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Publication date: 2012-07-01

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