Size and Shape Variation in the Mandible of the Fossorial Rodent Spalax ehrenbergi

A Procrustes Analysis of Three Dimensions
  • Marco Corti
  • Carlo Fadda
  • Shimon Simson
  • Eviatar Nevo
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 284)


Three-dimensional Procrustes analysis was used to study the variation of mandible size and shape in the fossorial rodent superspecies Spalax ehrenbergi across the four chromosomal species in Israel (2n = 52, 54, 58 and 60) and the Egyptian species (2n = 60). Because the animals use their incisors to dig their underground tunnel systems, we selected the mandible as a potentially rich source of information on phylogenetic and adaptive processes that characterized the evolution of the superspecies during Pleistocene and Holocene times. Eleven landmarks were recorded from the mandible in three dimensions as x, y and z coordinates. Differences in landmark position among populations and species, based on a 3D graphic visualization of the landmarks, were studied after Procrustes Generalized Least Square (GLS) fitting through uni- and multivariate statistical analysis. Sexual dimorphism was found only for size. Size also changes in a consistent pattern for species, geography, soil type and other ecological descriptors. A principal component analysis of the “shape” GLS residuals and the Mahalanobis distances between populations shows a pattern consistent with species differences in chromosomes. This favors a phylogenetic interpretation for the observed pattern of variation. However, Partial Least Squares indicate that the change is also related to geography and current ecology and is associated with the increase in diploid number, suggesting that ecological factors affected speciation.


Sexual Dimorphism Generalize Little Square Processus Coronoideus Centroid Size Generalize Little Square 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Corti
    • 1
  • Carlo Fadda
    • 1
  • Shimon Simson
    • 2
  • Eviatar Nevo
    • 2
  1. 1.Anatomia Comparata Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell’UomoUniversità di Roma ‘La Sapienza’RomaItaly
  2. 2.Institute of EvolutionUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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