Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2013
Caviomorphs constitute a monophyletic group, representative of the oldest rodent
radiation in South America. Since the Oligocene they have contributed
importantly to the fossil communities of South American mammals. Today,
caviomorphs display a diverse array of locomotor and feeding behaviors,
occupying a wide range of habitats in which they consume a variety of food
items. In this contribution, we analyze species of Santacrucian caviomorphs from
a morphofunctional perspective in the context of extant caviomorph behavioral
diversity, in order to evaluate their paleobiology and its paleoenvironmental
significance. Body masses based on Santacrucian specimens were estimated by
applying published equations. Reconstructions were made of areas of origin and
insertion of the main masticatory muscles following the muscular pattern
observed in living caviomorphs. On this basis, functional analyses of the
masticatory apparatus were performed. Major postcranial features in extant
caviomorphs identified as functionally associated with different locomotor
habits were used as a model to evaluate the functional significance of the
postcranial features in Santacrucian species. Santacrucian caviomorphs examined
show the range of body mass from small- to relatively large-sized living
caviomorphs. The porcupine
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