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Mastozoología neotropical

versión impresa ISSN 0327-9383


CHEMISQUY, M. Amelia  y  PREVOSTI, Francisco J. It takes more than large canines to be a sabretooth predator. Mastozool. neotrop. [online]. 2014, vol.21, n.1, pp.27-36. ISSN 0327-9383.

Monodelphis dimidiata is a small marsupial from southern South America. It is a true semelparous species that develops an extreme sexual dimorphism associated to the attaining of sexual maturity, both on the size, weight and skull morphology, including the development of sabre-like canines in males. A recent paper considered M. dimidiata males to be pigmy sabretooth predators, based mainly on morphometric analyses. Here we study the skull morphometry (including canine size) of M. dimidiata in comparison with other marsupials, living felids and extinct sabretooth predators, looking for convergences with the latter. We also put the hypoth­esis of M. dimidiata as a sabretooth predator in the context of its life history, reinterpreting the origin of its sabre-like canine and its suitability as a living analogue of primitive sabretooth predators. We found that the skull pattern of M. dimidiata is not different from other didelphid marsupials, and even Didelphis albiventris has canines of the same relative length. We consider that the large canines of M. dimidiata are a byproduct of the exacerbated growth of males, caused by their delayed eruption, as well as by their late apexification. Large canines are related to the particular reproductive cycle of this species instead of being an adaptation to hunt large preys, as was proposed for sabretooth cats.

Palabras clave : Canine growth; Didelphis albiventris; Marsupials; Monodelphis dimidiata.

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