, Volume 124, Issue 4, pp 189–203

Post-natal ontogeny of the mandible and ventral cranium in Marmota species (Rodentia, Sciuridae): allometry and phylogeny

Original Article


Post-natal ontogenetic variation of the marmot mandible and ventral cranium is investigated in two species of the subgenus Petromarmota (M. caligata, M. flaviventris) and four species of the subgenus Marmota (M. caudata, M. himalayana, M. marmota, M. monax). Relationships between size and shape are analysed using geometric morphometric techniques. Sexual dimorphism is negligible, allometry explains the main changes in shape during growth, and males and females manifest similar allometric trajectories. Anatomical regions affected by size-related shape variation are similar in different species, but allometric trajectories are divergent. The largest modifications of the mandible and ventral cranium occur in regions directly involved in the mechanics of mastication. Relative to other anatomical regions, the size of areas of muscle insertion increases, while the size of sense organs, nerves and teeth generally decreases. Epigenetic factors, developmental constraints and size variation were found to be the major contributors in producing the observed allometric patterns. A phylogenetic signal was not evident in the comparison of allometric trajectories, but traits that allow discrimination of the Palaearctic marmots from the Nearctic species of Petromarmota are present early in development and are conserved during post-natal ontogeny.


Mandible/ventral cranium Sexual dimorphism Allometric trajectories Masticatory muscles/epigenetics/constraints Phylogenetic signal 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hull York Medical SchoolThe University of YorkHeslington, YorkUK
  2. 2.Hull York Medical School and Department of BiologyThe University of YorkHeslington, YorkUK
  3. 3.The University of HullHullUK

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