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Bite force and jaw biomechanics in the subterranean rodent Talas tuco-tuco (Ctenomys talarum) (Caviomorpha: Octodontoidea)

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Abstract:

The Talas tuco-tuco (Ctenomys talarum Thomas, 1898) is a South American subterranean rodent that digs using both forelimbs and incisors, the latter being used when animals face hard soils and fibrous roots. In this rodent, the incisors are also used during intermale competition for mates. Bite forces were measured on wild females (n = 21) and males (n = 21) (both adult and young individuals) using a force transducer. Bite force was significantly higher in adult males than in females (32 vs. 27 N, respectively). Bite forces calculated on the physiological cross-section of jaw adductor muscles in dissected specimens were slightly higher than in vivo measurements. Regressions against body mass showed that bite force scaled with positive allometry, with slopes of 0.89 (females) and 0.99 (males). No significant differences were observed, neither in the slope nor in the y intercept of both sexes’ equations; therefore intersexual differences in bite forces observed in adults should mainly be due to size dimorphism. Considering that soil hardness of C. talarum’s typical habitat averages 100 N/cm2, and taking into account incisor’s cross-section, it was assessed that the pressure exerted by jaw adductor muscles at the incisors level is three times higher than that required for soil penetration.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/z11-007

Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, CC 1245, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina; Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET). 2: Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, CC 1245, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina; Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET). 3: Departament de Biologia Animal, Universitat de Barcelona, Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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