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Article
Feeding Mechanics and Dietary Implications in the Fossil Sloth Neocnus (Mammalia: Xenarthra: Megalonychidae) from Haiti
Journal of Morphology
  • Robert McAfee, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
10-1-2011
Abstract
Haitian species of the extinct ground sloth genus Neocnus (Mammalia: Pilosa: Megalonychidae) have previously been hypothesized to have a much reduced jugal bone and a correspondingly reduced masseter musculature but a paucity of specimens has prevented further investigation of this hypothesis. Recent discovery of jugal bones belonging to Haitian specimens of Neocnus within the University of Florida Museum collections enables the element to be more accurately described. The discovery also makes it possible to explore mastication in these sloths. Osteological characters related to feeding were examined, along with comparative estimations of bite force with the extant tree sloths, Bradypus and Choloepus, and their known dietary habits as a means to infer aspects of the paleodiet of Neocnus. There is a significant difference in moment arm calculations for m. masseter between predicted and actual jugals, but the overall significance for bite force is lost and hampered by small sample size. Neocnus demonstrates a variety of characters that are similar to those of Bradypus and not to Choloepus, which is a close phylogenetic relative. The masticatory musculature of Neocnus enabled a chewing cycle emphasizing a grinding combination of mesiodistal and linguobuccal movements of the molariform dentition. The orientations of m. masseter and m. temporalis are estimated to produce relatively high bite force ratios that imply a masticatory system with stronger versus faster components. Because of the similarity of bite forces and jaw mechanics to those of Bradypus, in addition to a number of osteological adaptations indicative of herbivorous grazers (elevated mandibular condyle, large and complex masseter, and robust angular process), the Haitian forms of Neocnus are considered to have been selective feeders with a folivorous diet.
PubMed ID
21638306
Comments

This article was published in Journal of Morphology, Volume 272, Issue 10, Pages 1204-1216.

The published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jmor.10976.

Copyright © 2011.

Citation Information
Robert McAfee. "Feeding Mechanics and Dietary Implications in the Fossil Sloth Neocnus (Mammalia: Xenarthra: Megalonychidae) from Haiti" Journal of Morphology Vol. 272 Iss. 10 (2011) p. 1204 - 1216
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/robert-mcafee/5/