Data from: The impact of digging on craniodental morphology and integration

  • Andrew F McIntosh (University of Hull, Hull, UK.) (Creator)
  • Philip Graham Cox (Creator)



The relationship between the form and function of the skull has been the subject of a great deal of research, much of which has concentrated on the impact of feeding on skull shape. However, there are a number of other behaviours that can influence craniodental morphology. Previous work has shown that subterranean rodents that use their incisors to dig (chisel-tooth digging) have a constrained cranial shape which is probably driven by a necessity to create high bite forces at wide gapes. Chisel-tooth digging rodents also have an upper incisor root that is displaced further back into the cranium compared with other rodents. This study quantified cranial shape and upper incisors of a phylogenetically diverse sample of rodents to determine if chisel-tooth digging rodents differ in craniodental morphology. The study showed that the crania of chisel-tooth digging rodents shared a similar place in morphospace, but a strong phylogenetic signal within the sample meant that this grouping was non-significant. It was also found that the curvature of the upper incisor in chisel-tooth diggers was significantly larger than in other rodents. Interestingly, most subterranean rodents in the sample (both chisel-tooth and scratch diggers) had upper incisors that were better able to resist bending than those of terrestrial rodents, presumably due to their similar diets of tough plant materials. Finally, the incisor variables and cranial shape were not found to covary consistently in this sample, highlighting the complex relationship between a species' evolutionary history and functional morphology.

External deposit with Dryad.
Date made available15 Aug 2016

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