Sengis are small mammals in the order Macroscelidae that are shrew-like in appearance. They are cursorial and saltatorial, and both insectivorous and omnivorous. We studied Macroscelides spp. and Elephantulus rupestris with overlapping distributions in South Africa and Namibia. They have similar life histories and are good candidate species for comparative studies. We used geometric morphometric techniques for 3 views of a total of 43 skulls representing E. rupestris, M. flavicaudatus, and M. proboscideus to evaluate variation in skull shape that may be associated with geographical location. We pooled all Macroscelides into a single group because the speciation event was recent. We observed a pattern of shape variation in both taxa that followed a latitudinal gradient from the Western Province of Africa with Mediterranean vegetation to northern Namibia with xeric habitats. At higher latitudes, skulls were elongated with narrow frontals, premaxilla, and maxilla, while at low latitudes, the parietals were reduced and both occipitals and bullae timpanicae were expanded. We interpreted these patterns in the context of predator avoidance and foraging.
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Vol. 99 • No. 6