Journal of Mammalian Evolution | VOL. 28

3D Morphometric Analysis Reveals Similar Ecomorphs for Early Kangaroos (Macropodidae) and Fanged Kangaroos (Balbaridae) from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, Australia

Publication Date Jun 11, 2020


Understanding feeding ecology of extinct kangaroos is fundamental to understanding the evolution of kangaroos and the Australia paleoenvironment during the Oligo-Miocene. Comparisons with extant species have suggested that the macropodiforms of the Oligo/Miocene (kangaroos and allies) from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, northern Australia, were predominantly folivorous browsers or fungivores, unlike the majority of extant species. To further test this hypothesis, we investigate the relationship between variation in cranial and mandibular shape of extant and extinct macropodiforms and ecological factors such as diet, locomotion, and body mass using 3D geometric morphometric analysis of 42 living species and eight extinct species from two radiations (the extinct clade of Balbaridae and some early representatives of the extant Macropodidae. Dietary class (fungivore, browser, grazer, and mixed feeder) correlated strongly with variation in cranial shape (20–25% of variance explained). There was also significant association between cranial shape, and both locomotor mode and body mass. In a principal component analysis of shape variation for crania (including the shape of the molar row), Riversleigh macropodiforms cluster with extant folivorous browsers on principal components (PC) 1 and 3, providing support for previous interpretations of these species as browsing kangaroos. However, as a group and regardless of phylogenetic association, the shape centroid of extinct species differs significantly from that of extant species....

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Variation In Cranial Shape
Cranial Shape
Riversleigh World Heritage Area
Locomotor Mode
Woodland Environments
Mixed Feeder
Variation In Shape
Analyses Of Shape
Middle Miocene
Northern Australia

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