Reassessment of the Cranial Characters of Glossotherium and Paramylodon (Mammalia: Xenarthra: Mylodontidae)

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Nomenclatural confusion has existed within the Mylodontinae for several genera, and has resulted in the supposition that Paramylodon of North America is synonymous with Glossotherium of South America. A taxonomic revision of crania for Glossotherium and Paramylodon upholds their separation as distinct genera and provides a list of diagnostic characters that have been lacking. Assessment was made using principal components analysis for suites of cranial and mandibular measurements, evaluation of ratios and measurement distribution, and by examining qualitative characters. Results show the greatest characterization for the skull comes from differences relating to cranial length versus width, whereas the mandible is predominantly distinguished by qualitative characters of the predental spout. Examination of the Pliocene species Glossotherium chapadmalense from South America shows a combination of characters indicative of each genus, but exhibits more with Glossotherium and is tentatively retained under that genus. The mix of characters indicates that G. chapadmalense is the likely ancestor to Paramylodon, although when and where the transition took place is still unclear. During the evolutionary transition, Paramylodon crania emphasized an increase in length of the palate, whereas those of Glossotherium emphasized an increase in cranial width.

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Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society





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This article was published in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, Volume 155, Issue 4, Pages 885-903.

The published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1096-3642.2008.00468.x.

Copyright © 2009.

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