Beyond the carapace: skull shape variation and morphological systematics of long-nosed armadillos (genus Dasypus )

Abstract : Background: The systematics of long-nosed armadillos (genus Dasypus) has been mainly based on a handful of external morphological characters and classical measurements. Here, we studied the pattern of morphological variation in the skull of long-nosed armadillos species, with a focus on the systematics of the widely distributed nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus). Methods: We present the first exhaustive 3D comparison of the skull morphology within the genus Dasypus, based on micro-computed tomography. We used geometric morphometric approaches to explore the patterns of the intra-and interspecific morphological variation of the skull with regard to several factors such as taxonomy, geography, allometry, and sexual dimorphism. Results: We show that the shape and size of the skull vary greatly among Dasypus species, with Dasypus pilosus representing a clear outlier compared to other long-nosed armadillos. The study of the cranial intraspecific variation in Dasypus novemcinctus evidences clear links to the geographic distribution and argues in favor of a revision of past taxonomic delimitations. Our detailed morphometric comparisons detected previously overlooked morphotypes of nine-banded armadillos, especially a very distinctive unit restricted to the Guiana Shield. Discussion: As our results are congruent with recent molecular data and analyses of the structure of paranasal sinuses, we propose that Dasypus novemcinctus should be regarded either as a polytypic species (with three to four subspecies) or as a complex of several distinct species.
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Soumis le : mardi 17 octobre 2017 - 14:00:41
Dernière modification le : mardi 6 février 2018 - 01:04:41
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Lionel Hautier, Guillaume Billet, Benoit De Thoisy, Frédéric Delsuc. Beyond the carapace: skull shape variation and morphological systematics of long-nosed armadillos (genus Dasypus ). PeerJ, PeerJ, 2017, 5, pp.e3650. 〈10.7717/peerj.3650〉. 〈hal-01618051〉



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