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Ecomorphological characterization of murines and non-arvicoline cricetids (Rodentia) from south-western Europe since the latest Middle Miocene to the Mio-Pliocene boundary (MN 7/8-MN13)

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Álvarez Sierra, María Ángeles and Hernández Fernández, Manuel and Gómez Cano, Ana R. and Kimura, Yuri and Blanco, Fernando and Menéndez, Iris (2017) Ecomorphological characterization of murines and non-arvicoline cricetids (Rodentia) from south-western Europe since the latest Middle Miocene to the Mio-Pliocene boundary (MN 7/8-MN13). PeerJ, 5 (3646). ISSN 2167-8359

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Abstract

Rodents are the most speciose group of mammals and display a great ecological diversity. Despite the greater amount of ecomorphological information compiled for extant rodent species, studies usually lack of morphological data on dentition, which has led to difficulty in directly utilizing existing ecomorphological data of extant rodents for paleoecological reconstruction because teeth are the most common or often the only micromammal fossils. Here, we infer the environmental ranges of extinct rodent genera by extracting habitat information from extant relatives and linking it to extinct taxa based on the phenogram of the cluster analysis, in which variables are derived from the principal component analysis on outline shape of the upper first molars. This phenotypic ``bracketing'' approach is particularly useful in the study of the fossil record of small mammals, which is mostly represented by isolated teeth. As a case study, we utilize extinct genera of murines and non-arvicoline cricetids, ranging from the Iberoccitanian latest middle Miocene to the Mio-Pliocene boundary, and compare our results thoroughly with previous paleoecological reconstructions inferred by different methods. The resultant phenogram shows a predominance of ubiquitous genera among the Miocene taxa, and the presence of a few forest specialists in the two rodent groups (Murinae and Cricetidae), along with the absence of open environment specialists in either group of rodents. This appears to be related to the absence of enduring grassland biomes in the Iberian Peninsula during the late Miocene. High consistency between our result and previous studies suggests that this phenotypic ``bracketing'' approach is a very useful tool.


Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Fourier analysis, Dental morphology, Ecological characterization, Phenogram, Geometric morphometrics, Paleoecology, Rodentia, Mammalia, Miocene
Subjects:Sciences > Geology
Sciences > Geology > Paleontology
Medical sciences > Biology > Ecology
ID Code:47481
Deposited On:02 Oct 2019 06:28
Last Modified:02 Oct 2019 08:18

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