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Data from: Geometric morphometric analyses of worn cheek teeth help identify extant and extinct gophers (Rodentia: Geomyidae)


Calede, Jonathan J. M.; Glusman, Jennifer W. (2018), Data from: Geometric morphometric analyses of worn cheek teeth help identify extant and extinct gophers (Rodentia: Geomyidae), Dryad, Dataset,


Studies of the biostratigraphy and palaeoecology of fossil vertebrate assemblages require large samples of accurately identified specimens. Such analyses can be hampered by the inability to assign isolated and worn remains to specific taxa. Entoptychine gophers are a diverse group of burrowing rodents found in Oligo-Miocene deposits of the western United States. In both entoptychines and their extant relatives the geomyines, diagnostic characters of the occlusal surface of the teeth are modified with wear, making difficult the identification of many isolated fossil teeth. We use geometric morphometrics to test the hypothesis that tooth shape informs taxonomic affinities and expected levels of morphological variation across gopher taxa. We also incorporate data from microcomputer tomography to investigate changes in occlusal surface shape through wear within individuals. Our analyses demonstrate the usefulness of our approach in identifying extant geomyines to the genus, subgenus and species levels, and fossil entoptychines to the genus and, in some cases, the species level. Our results cast doubt on the validity of some species within Entoptychus and suggest future revisions to entoptychine taxonomy. The amounts of morphological divergence observed among fossil and extant genera are similar. Fossil species do not differ greatly from extant ones in that regard either. Further work evaluating the morphological variation within and across entoptychine species, including unworn teeth and osteological material, will allow revised analyses of the biostratigraphy and palaeoecology of important Oligo-Miocene mammalian assemblages of the western United States and help to infer the phylogenetic relationships and evolution of gophers.

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North America