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1 November 2014 Dental Function and Diet of Vintana sertichi (Mammalia, Gondwanatheria) from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar
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The nearly complete and well-preserved cranium of Vintana sertichi provides an opportunity to investigate its dietary adaptations. We used a combination of comparative morphological and biomechanical analyses to reveal the direction of its power stroke during mastication, reconstruct the positions and relative sizes of its muscles of mastication, and predict its capacity to produce bite forces during incision and molariform occlusion. The orientation of dental wear striations on the upper molariform teeth of Vintana, in combination with the orientation of the enamel islets and synclines and the position of leading and trailing edges, demonstrates that the power stroke was primarily palinal (distally directed), with a significant buccally directed component that is absent in multituberculates, haramiyidans, and other gondwanatherians. The large palinal component of jaw movement was corroborated by biomechanical analyses of the moments generated by the primary jaw adductors around the dentary-squamosal joint axis. Similar analyses also confirmed the previously documented proal (mesially directed) power stroke of the extant rodent Myocastor. Finite element analyses predict that Vintana was capable of producing bite forces that were more than twice as high as the similarly sized Myocastor. Vintana was almost certainly an herbivore, as claimed previously for other sudamericid gondwanatherians. Its size and capacity to generate high bite forces at both the incisors and the molariform teeth suggest that it was a mixed feeder whose diet may have included relatively large, hard food items such as roots, seeds, twigs, or nut-like fruits.

© 2014 by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Julia A. Schultz, David W. Krause, Wighart Von Koenigswald, and Elizabeth R. Dumont "Dental Function and Diet of Vintana sertichi (Mammalia, Gondwanatheria) from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar," Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 34(6), 182-202, (1 November 2014).
Received: 11 March 2014; Accepted: 5 September 2014; Published: 1 November 2014

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