Burrowing behavior is widespread among mammals and has generated a diverse array of adaptive responses to the physical demands of this lifestyle. While extensive research has been devoted to the morphological, ecological, and evolutionary implications of burrowing, it remains difficult to compare burrowing adaptations between mammals of widely divergent ancestry. A reliable quantitative proxy for fossoriality (burrowing) is necessary for such comparisons as well as for detailed descriptions of ecology from specimens of rare, extinct, and fossil mammals. This study presents several quantitative indices of the morphology of burrowing mammals based on 20 measurements of skull and skeletal morphology taken from 123 different mammalian species, both burrowing and nonburrowing. Discriminant analyses revealed that these quantitative characters successfully distinguish nonburrowing taxa from those that are adapted to a burrowing lifestyle. Additionally, more subtle distinctions between subterranean taxa (which rarely emerge above ground) and other burrowers as well as between mammals using different methods of burrow excavation were identified from these characters. A test of these indices using 6 extinct species yielded results consistent with more-detailed descriptions of the functional morphology of these taxa, indicating that our quantitative proxies provide an important basis for comparisons of fossorial adaptations across divergent mammalian clades.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.