Dental Shape Variation and Phylogenetic Signal in the Rattini Tribe Species of Mainland Southeast Asia

A. Hulme-Beaman (Corresponding Author), J. Claude, Y. Chaval, A. Evin, S. Morand, J. D. Vigne, K. Dobney, T. Cucchi

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Abstract

The Rattini tribe comprises some of the most specious genera in the mammalian kingdom. Many of these species are also highly morphologically conserved. As a result, identifying Rattini tribe animals, particularly those of the Rattus genus, to species level is extremely difficult. Problems with identification of conservative morphologies, particularly of the skeleton, have led to difficulties in understanding the fossil remains and as a result the systematics of this group. Here, we apply geometric morphometrics to the first lower molar of 14 species of the Rattini tribe. We find that the morphological data present a strong phylogenetic signal. However, within Rattus, this signal is rather complex and possibly hints at rapid evolutionary shape and size changes. In modern species, it is possible to identify specimens to species level with a good degree of confidence. We find that using both size and shape together affords further confidence with identification. However, we caution against the over-reliance on size in environments with unknown species composition and climate, particularly in archaeological contexts. This approach should prove to be a useful tool for identifying fossil and sub-fossil remains, particularly where biomolecular markers are absent in circumstances of poor preservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Mammalian Evolution
Early online date19 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jan 2018

Fingerprint

South East Asia
teeth
Rattus
fossils
phylogenetics
phylogeny
fossil
skeleton
taxonomy
climate
species diversity
Southeast Asia
animals
animal

Keywords

  • dental morphology
  • geometric morphometrics
  • identification
  • phylogenetic signal
  • Rattini tribe
  • Southeast Asia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Dental Shape Variation and Phylogenetic Signal in the Rattini Tribe Species of Mainland Southeast Asia. / Hulme-Beaman, A. (Corresponding Author); Claude, J.; Chaval, Y.; Evin, A.; Morand, S.; Vigne, J. D.; Dobney, K.; Cucchi, T.

In: Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 19.01.2018, p. 1-12.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hulme-Beaman, A. ; Claude, J. ; Chaval, Y. ; Evin, A. ; Morand, S. ; Vigne, J. D. ; Dobney, K. ; Cucchi, T. / Dental Shape Variation and Phylogenetic Signal in the Rattini Tribe Species of Mainland Southeast Asia. In: Journal of Mammalian Evolution. 2018 ; pp. 1-12.
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