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Locomotory Adaptations in 3D Humerus Geometry of Xenarthra: Testing for Convergence

Serio, C, Raia, P and Meloro, C (2020) Locomotory Adaptations in 3D Humerus Geometry of Xenarthra: Testing for Convergence. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 8. ISSN 2296-701X

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Three-dimensional (3D) models of fossil bones are increasingly available, thus opening a novel frontier in the study of organismal size and shape evolution. We provide an example of how photogrammetry can be combined with Geometric Morphometrics (GMM) techniques to study patterns of morphological convergence in the mammalian group of Xenarthra. Xenarthrans are currently represented by armadillos, sloths, and anteaters. However, this clade shows an incredibly diverse array of species and ecomorphotypes in the fossil record, including gigantic ground sloths and glyptodonts. Since the humerus is a weight-bearing bone in quadrupedal mammals and its morphology correlates with locomotor behavior, it provides an ideal bone to gain insight into adaptations of fossil species. A 3D sample of humerii belonging to extant and fossil Xenarthra allowed us to identify a significant phylogenetic signal and a strong allometric component in the humerus shape. Although no rate shift in the evolution of the humerus shape was recorded for any clade, fossorial and arboreal species humerii did evolve at significantly slower and faster paces, respectively, than the rest of the Xenarthran species. Significant evidence for morphological convergence found among the fossorial species and between the two tree sloth genera explains these patterns. These results suggest that the highly specialized morphologies of digging taxa and tree sloths represent major deviations from the plesiomorphic Xenarthran body plan, evolved several times during the history of the group.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0602 Ecology, 0603 Evolutionary Biology
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Q Science > QM Human anatomy
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Date Deposited: 28 May 2020 08:45
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 07:14
DOI or ID number: 10.3389/fevo.2020.00139
Editors: Houssaye, A
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13020
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