Comparative postnatal ontogeny of the skull in Dromiciops gliroides (Marsupialia, Microbiotheriidae). American Museum novitates ; no. 3460

Supplemental Materials
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
New York, NY : American Museum of Natural History
Dromiciops gliroides is the single extant representative of the marsupial family Microbiotheriidae. The importance of D. gliroides stems from its peculiar cranial anatomy (specifically the configuration of the tympanic region) and dentition and from its controversial position in the phylogenetic tree of marsupials--a South American form more closely related to Australasian marsupials. We studied the postnatal ontogeny of the skull in D. gliroides by analyzing qualitative and allometric aspects of the development of cranial structures. We compared recently weaned young individuals with adults and described the bivariate and multivariate allometric trends of 14 cranial dimensions for a sample of 37-51 specimens. Most cranial components develop in a way similar to didelphids studied so far. However, some trends (e.g., growth of the orbit) seem particular to D. gliroides. The microbiotheriid bulla of D. gliroides, a structure to which five basicranial bones contribute parts, is already present in its highly derived condition in the youngest specimens of our series. We conclude that except for the bulla, most of the cranial development in D. gliroides is highly conservative and that some peculiarities may be shared with other marsupials of similarly small body size. Data on australidelphians and small-size didelphids are needed to contrast these patterns.
17 p. : ill. ; 26 cm.
Electronic version available in portable document format (PDF).
Includes bibliographical references (p. 15-17).