versión On-line ISSN 1851-8044
VIZCAINO, Sergio F.; BARGO, M. Susana y CASSINI, Guillermo H.. Dental occlusal surface area in relation to body mass, food habits and other biological features in fossil xenarthrans. Ameghiniana [online]. 2006, vol.43, n.1, pp. 11-26. ISSN 1851-8044.
The Xenarthra includes the most intriguing mammals from the Cenozoic of South America: the glyptodonts (Cingulata) and the ground sloths (Tardigrada). Their masticatory apparatuses are diverse and peculiar, with a strongly reduced, hypselodont dentition that lacks enamel and displays different degrees of lobation. The goal of this study is to investigate the relationship between dental occlusal surface area (OSA) and diet, and other physiological factors in fossil xenarthrans. Over one hundred and fifty specimens, including living herbivorous epitherians and both extinct and living xenarthrans, were measured and photographed, and their OSA estimated and plotted against body mass. For most fossil xenarthrans OSA is smaller than expected for extant herbivorous mammals of equivalent body size. Within xenarthrans, cingulates show the highest OSA values, suggesting more extensive oral food processing than in tardigrades. Among ground sloths, mylodontids have extremely low OSA values, suggesting low efficiency in oral food processing that was probably compensated by high fermentation in the digestive tract, or lower metabolic requirements, or a combination of both adaptations. On the other hand, Megatherium americanum has an OSA expected for, or even higher than that of, a mammal of its size, which indicates higher oral food processing, lower fermentation capacity, and/or higher metabolic requirements.
Palabras clave : Mammalia; Xenarthra; Dental Occlusal Surface Area; Body mass; Diet; Physiology.