Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 285–298 | Cite as

Investigation into the Paleobiology of Dasypus bellus Using Geometric Morphometrics and Variation of the Calcaneus

  • Steven E. Jasinski
  • Steven C. Wallace
Original Paper


The extinct taxon Dasypus bellus has long been considered identical to the extant Dasypus novemcinctus osteologically when disregarding allometric differences. In this study, we undertake a preliminary investigation into this extinct taxon and an extant relative D. novemcinctus, by comparing the calcanea of these two dasypodids. Clear osteological differences are observed including a mediolaterally-reduced facet region, an anteriorly-shortened calcaneal head, a reduced peroneal process, and a curved and dorsoventrally-shortened calcaneal foot in D. bellus. Such characters are not allometric and likely correlate to distinct behavioral differences. Specifically, we suggest that D. novemcinctus maintains a more fossorial lifestyle, while the larger D. bellus was likely more terrestrial, with potentially little digging behavior. Such lifestyle differences could not only explain the osteological differences present, but also why fossils of D. bellus have been recovered farther north than the present range of D. novemcinctus. Fossils of Dasypus may need to be re-evaluated to determine how these two taxa relate temporally and geographically, which may have further implications regarding some past interpretations and provide new details on the behavior and potential relationships between these (and other) xenarthrans.


Dasypus Xenarthra Geometric morphometrics Calcaneus Evolutionary morphology Allometry 



We thank Sandra Swift and Blaine Schubert for help with the specimens and discussions involving this manuscript; Jun Ebersole and the McWane Science Center for loaning RMM 6356 for study; Sharon Holte for discussion of ACb-3 cave; and the individuals who collected the material, including “ME” who is listed as having collected RMM 6356 on June 19, 1987. Eric Lynch and Anneke van Heteren both provided help with MorphoJ and analyses. The editor John R. Wible and four anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments and suggestions that greatly improved this manuscript. This research was also supported in part by the National Science Foundation (EAR-0958985).

Supplementary material

10914_2013_9239_MOESM1_ESM.doc (106 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 106 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences and Don Sundquist Center of Excellence in PaleontologyEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA
  2. 2.Section of Paleontology and Geology, State Museum of PennsylvaniaHarrisburgUSA
  3. 3.Department of Geosciences and Don Sundquist Center of Excellence in PaleontologyEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA

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