Scaling of the mandible in squirrels.
We compared the shape of the mandible among New World tree squirrels and selected outgroup taxa using linear measurements and areas defined by the median axis and conventional anatomical landmarks. We modified the median axis technique to define novel measurements, which proved complementary to those obtained from conventional landmarks. Allometric analyses showed that the scaling of the mandible among the New World tree squirrels is generally isometric (as has been observed in other groups of mammals), but diverges from isometry in a tendency in smaller animals for the masseteric ridge to be displaced anteriorly, the condylar process and posterior portion of the ascending ramus to be relatively elongated, and the coronoid process to be shortened. Allometric analyses also revealed the ways and extent that outgrowth taxa deviated from the scaling pattern observed for the New World tree squirrels. A flying squirrel (subfamily Pteromyinae), a moderate-sized callosciurine squirrel, and three species of pygmy tree squirrels from Asia and Africa show mandibular proportions very similar to those predicted for New World tree squirrels of corresponding size. Ground squirrels (tribe Marmotini) and successively more distant relatives such as Aplodontia, two myomorph rodents, and a rabbit show greater differences from the New World tree squirrels in their mandibular proportions. Combining the use of median-axis and conventional measurements makes it possible to examine changing relationships between locations of anatomically homologous landmarks and the geometry of the form.
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