How rats and mice came to have a unique masticatory apparatus, key to their evolutionary success

The reasons for this success are not yet clearly understood: one of them may be their masticatory apparatus, which is unique among rodents. Now, researchers at the Institut de Paléoprimatologie, Paléontologie Humaine: Évolution et Paléoenvironnements (CNRS/Université de Poitiers)1 have described the evolutionary processes that caused rats and mice to acquire this characteristic feature. The study, which was carried out on several hundred present day and fossil specimens, made use of an X-ray beam at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble. This enabled the researchers to determine the diet of extinct species and to trace the evolutionary history of these rodents. Published in the journal Evolution dated November 2013, the study makes use of innovative analytical methods for the study of the evolution of species.

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1In collaboration with teams from the Institut de Génomique Fonctionnelle de Lyon (CNRS/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1/ENS Lyon), the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier (CNRS/Université de Montpellier 2/IRD) and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble).


Correlated changes in occlusal pattern and diet in stem murinae during the onset of the radiation of old world rats and mice. Coillot Tiphaine, Chaimanee Yaowalak, Charles Cyril, Gomes-Rodrigues Helder, Michaux Jacques, Tafforeau Paul, Vianey-Liaud Monique, Viriot Laurent, Lazzari Vincent. Evolution. Volume 67, Issue 11, pages 3323–3338, November 2013.
DOI : 10.1111/evo.12172

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