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    Gomes Rodrigues, Helder Cornette, Raphaël Clavel, Julien Cassini, Guillermo Bhullar, Bhart-Anjan S.  Fernández-Monescillo, Marcos Moreno, Karen Herrel, Anthony and Billet, Guillaume 2018. Differential influences of allometry, phylogeny and environment on the rostral shape diversity of extinct South American notoungulates. Royal Society Open Science, Vol. 5, Issue. 1, p. 171816.

    Ginot, Samuel Herrel, Anthony Claude, Julien and Hautier, Lionel 2018. Skull Size and Biomechanics are Good Estimators of In Vivo Bite Force in Murid Rodents. The Anatomical Record, Vol. 301, Issue. 2, p. 256.

    Fabre, P.-H. Herrel, A. Fitriana, Y. Meslin, L. and Hautier, L. 2017. Masticatory muscle architecture in a water-rat from Australasia (Murinae, Hydromys ) and its implication for the evolution of carnivory in rodents. Journal of Anatomy, Vol. 231, Issue. 3, p. 380.

    Cox, Philip G. 2017. The jaw is a second-class lever in Pedetes capensis (Rodentia: Pedetidae). PeerJ, Vol. 5, Issue. , p. e3741.

  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: August 2015

10 - Grades and clades among rodents: the promise of geometric morphometrics



The various mammalian groups, rodents in particular, have developed a wide trophic range shown first and foremost by a significant morphological differentiation of the masticatory apparatus (skull, mandible, teeth and musculature). The mammalian masticatory apparatus is a highly plastic region of the skull, which explains why the associated features are frequently used as diagnostic phylogenetic attributes. In the first place, studying this masticatory apparatus requires precise knowledge of the extent to which its associated morphological features vary. It is only afterwards that one can focus on the factors most likely to have influenced its morphological evolution. Among mammals, the radiation of rodents constitutes a special case. Rodents are considered to be one of the great successful groups in the evolutionary history of mammals, and few mammal clades have been studied as extensively as the order Rodentia. The modern representatives of the order, around 2200 species, are spread across every continent barring Antarctica (Wilson and Reeder, 2005). Their fossil record is very rich, which makes rodents an unavoidable biostratigraphic tool for Paleogene and Neogene deposits.

Justifying the choice of a “rodent” model in a study of evolutionary biology is therefore easy, as it allows the integration of study results in such varied fields as palaeontology, anatomy, ecology or development. Although intensively studied, the phylogenetic relationships between the different groups of rodents have been a matter of debate for over 150 years. While exceptional for an intense diversification of lineages, all rodents share one of the most extreme specializations of the masticatory apparatus characterized by the reduction of the upper and lower incisor series to a single pair. This diprotodonty (i.e. single pairs of upper and lower incisors highly specialized for gnawing) is a hallmark of the rodent masticatory apparatus and is accompanied by a reduction of the number of cheek teeth in association with the development of anteroposterior movements of the mandible for gnawing and chewing (Becht, 1953).

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Evolution of the Rodents
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