Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Jaw geometry and molar morphology in marsupial carnivores: analysis of a constraint and its macroevolutionary consequences

  • Lars Werdelin (a1)
Abstract

In both jaw geometry and molar morphology, eutherian carnivores (order Carnivora) as a whole display greater diversity (plasticity in evolution from the primitive type) than marsupial carnivores (order Dasyurida). This is related to the difference in tooth replacement between the two taxa. In Carnivora, the permanent carnassial is preceded by a deciduous carnassial; the permanent tooth can erupt in its (geometrically) permanent position, and the post-carnassial molars are free to evolve for specialized functions or be reduced. In Dasyurida, there is relative molar progression, each erupting molar in turn functioning as a carnassial, and subsequently being pushed forwards in the jaw by the next erupting molar. Thus, all molars have carnassiform morphology, and none are free to develop for other functions. The greater plasticity of Carnivora has led to their adaptive zone being broader (as a group they are relatively more eurytopic than Dasyurida), which in turn has led to greater taxonomic diversity within Carnivora than Dasyurida. The resulting pattern from a macroevolutionary point of view is that, even in the absence of direct competition, Carnivora have had greater evolutionary “success” than Dasyurida.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Archer, M. 1974. New information about the Quaternary distribution of the Thylacine (Marsupialia, Thylacinidae) in Australia. J. Proc. R. Soc. West. Aust. 57:4350.
Archer, M. 1976. The dasyurid dentition and its relationships to that of didelphids, thylacinids, borhyaenids (Marsupicarnivora) and peramelids (Peramelina, Marsupialia). Aust. J. Zool., Suppl. Ser. 39:134.
Archer, M. 1978. The nature of the molar-premolar boundary in marsupials and a reinterpretation of the homology of marsupial cheekteeth. Mem. Qd. Mus. 18:157164.
Archer, M. 1982. A review of Miocene thylacinids (Thylacinidae, Marsupialia), the phylogenetic position of the Thylacinidae and the problem of apriorisms in character analysis. Pp. 445476. In: Archer, M., ed. Carnivorous Marsupials. Royal Society of New Souh Wales; Sydney.
Archer, M. 1984. The Australian marsupial radiation. In: Archer, M. and Clayton, G., eds. Vertebrate Zoogeography and Evolution in Australasia. Hesperian Press; Carlisle, Western Australia.
Aulerich, R. J. and Swindler, D. R. 1968. The dentition of the mink (Mustela vison). J. Mammal. 49:488494.
Butler, P. M. 1946. The evolution of carnassial dentitions in the mammals. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 116:198220.
Corbet, G. B. and Hill, J. E. 1980. A World List of Mammalian Species. 226 pp. British Museum (Natural History); London.
Davis, D. D. 1955. Masticatory apparatus in the spectacled bear Tremarctos ornatus. Fieldiana, Zool. 37:2546.
Eldredge, N. 1985. Unfinished Synthesis: Biological Hierarchies and Modern Evolutionary Thought. 237 pp. Oxford University Press; New York.
Emerson, S. B. and Radinsky, L. B. 1980. Functional analysis of sabertooth cranial morphology. Paleobiology. 6:295312.
Flower, W. H. 1867. On the development and succession of the teeth in the Marsupialia. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. 157:631642.
Gorniak, G. and Gans, C. 1980. Quantitative assay of electromyograms during mastication in domestic cats (Felis catus). J. Morph. 163:253281.
Gould, S. J. and Vrba, E. S. 1982. Exaptation—a missing term in the science of form. Paleobiology. 8:415.
Greaves, W. S. 1978. The jaw lever system in ungulates: a new model. J. Zool. 184:271285.
Greaves, W. S. 1982. A mechanical limitation on the position of the jaw muscles of mammals: the one-third rule. J. Mammal. 63:261266.
Greaves, W. S. 1983. A functional analysis of carnassial biting. Biol. J. Linnean Soc. Lond. 20:353363.
Greaves, W. S. 1985. The generalized carnivore jaw. Zool. J. Linnean Soc. London. 85:267274.
Guiler, E. R. and Heddle, R. W. L. 1974. The eruption and growth of teeth in the Tasmanian Devil, Sarcophilus harrisii (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). Pap. Proc. R. Soc. Tasm. 108:137140.
Hunter, J. 1839. Treatise on the natural history and diseases of the human teeth, explaining their structure, use, formation, growth and diseases. Haswell, Barrington, and Haswell; Philadelphia.
Jaanusson, V. 1985. Functional morphology of the shell in platycope ostracodes—a study of arrested evolution. Lethaia. 18:7384.
Marshall, L. G. 1976a. Evolution of the South American fossil marsupial family Thylacosmilidae, fossil marsupial “sabertooths” of South America. PaleoBios. 23:130.
Marshall, L. G. 1976b. Notes on the deciduous dentition of the Borhyaenidae (Marsupialia: Borhyaenoidea). J. Mammal. 57:751754.
Marshall, L. G. 1978. Evolution of the Borhyaenidae, extinct South American predaceous marsupials. Univ. Calif. Pubis. Geol. Sci. 117:189.
Marshall, L. G., Webb, S. D., Sepkoski, J. J. Jr., and Raup, D. M. 1982. Mammalian evolution and the great American interchange. Science. 215:13511357.
McKenna, M. C. 1975. Toward a phylogenetic classification of the Mammalia. Pp. 2146. In: Luckett, W. P. and Szalay, F. S., eds. Phylogeny of the Primates. Plenum; New York.
Radinsky, L. B. 1981. Evolution of skull shape in carnivores. 1. Representative modern carnivores. Biol. J. Linnean Soc. Lond. 15:369388.
Rosevear, D. R. 1974. The Carnivores of West Africa. 548 pp. British Museum (Natural History); London.
Sanson, G. D. 1982. Evolution of feeding adaptations in fossil and Recent macropodids. Pp. 489506. In: Rich, P. V. and Thompson, E. M., eds. The Fossil Vertebrate Record of Australasia. Monash University Printing Unit; Clayton, Victoria.
Sanson, G. D. and Miller, W. A. 1979. Mechanism of molar progression in macropods. Anat. Rec. 193:674.
Slaughter, B. H., Pine, R. H., and Pine, N. E. 1974. Eruption of cheek teeth in Insectivora and Carnivora. J. Mammal. 55:115125.
Stanley, S. M. 1975. A theory of evolution above the species level. Proc. Natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 72:646650.
Stanley, S. M. 1979. Macroevolution: Pattern and Process. 332 pp. W. H. Freeman; San Francisco.
Szalay, F. S. 1982. A new appraisal of marsupial phylogeny and classification. Pp. 621640. In: Archer, M., ed. Carnivorous Marsupials. Royal Society of New South Wales; Sydney.
Turnbull, W. D. 1970. Mammalian masticatory apparatus. Fieldiana, Geol. 18:149356.
Vrba, E. S. 1980. Evolution, species and fossils: how does life evolve? S. Afr. J. Sci. 76:6184.
Vrba, E. S. 1983. Macroevolutionary trends: new perspectives on the roles of adaptation and incidental effect. Science. 221:387389.
Vrba, E. S. 1984. Evolutionary pattern and process in the sister-group Alcelaphini-Aepycerotini (Mammalia: Bovidae). Pp. 6279. In: Eldredge, N. and Stanley, S. M., eds. Living Fossils. Springer-Verlag; New York.
Vrba, E. S. and Eldredge, N. 1984. Individuals, hierarchies and processes: towards a more complete evolutionary theory. Paleobiology. 10:146171.
Vrba, E. S. and Gould, S. J. 1986. The hierarchical expansion of sorting and selection: sorting and selection cannot be equated. Paleobiology. 12:217228.
Weijs, W. A. and Dantuma, R. 1981. Functional anatomy of the masticatory apparatus in the rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus L.). Neth. J. Zool. 31:99147.
Werdelin, L. 1986. Comparison of skull shape in marsupial and placental carnivores. Aust. J. Zool. 34:109117.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Paleobiology
  • ISSN: 0094-8373
  • EISSN: 1938-5331
  • URL: /core/journals/paleobiology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed