Fossorial adaptations in African mole-rats (Bathyergidae) and the unique appendicular phenotype of naked mole-rats

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dc.contributor.author Montoya-Sanhueza, German
dc.contributor.author Saffa, Gabriel
dc.contributor.author Sumbera, Radim
dc.contributor.author Chinsamy, Anusuya
dc.contributor.author Jarvis, Jennifer U.M.
dc.contributor.author Bennett, Nigel Charles
dc.date.accessioned 2023-05-16T04:43:46Z
dc.date.available 2023-05-16T04:43:46Z
dc.date.issued 2022-06-01
dc.description DATA AVAILABILITY: All the data generated and analysed in this study are included in this published article and its supplementary information files. en_US
dc.description CODE AVAILABILITY: The code for all analyses is available at: https://github.com/gabrielsaffa/african_mole_rats. en_US
dc.description.abstract Life underground has constrained the evolution of subterranean mammals to maximize digging performance. However, the mechanisms modulating morphological change and development of fossorial adaptations in such taxa are still poorly known. We assessed the morpho-functional diversity and early postnatal development of fossorial adaptations (bone superstructures) in the appendicular system of the African mole-rats (Bathyergidae), a highly specialized subterranean rodent family. Although bathyergids can use claws or incisors for digging, all genera presented highly specialized bone superstructures associated with scratch-digging behavior. Surprisingly, Heterocephalus glaber differed substantially from other bathyergids, and from fossorial mammals by possessing a less specialized humerus, tibia and fibula. Our data suggest strong functional and developmental constraints driving the selection of limb specializations in most bathyergids, but more relaxed pressures acting on the limbs of H. glaber. A combination of historical, developmental and ecological factors in Heterocephalus are hypothesized to have played important roles in shaping its appendicular phenotype. en_US
dc.description.department Mammal Research Institute en_US
dc.description.department Zoology and Entomology en_US
dc.description.librarian am2023 en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Financial support for the research trip to Kenya of J.U.M.J. was provided by The National Geographic Society, whereas funding support for the maintenance of the original NMR colonies was provided by the University of Cape Town and the South African National Research Foundation (NRF). DST-NRF is acknowledged for the financial support to establish the MIXRAD micro-focus X-ray tomography facility at Necsa. en_US
dc.description.uri https://www.nature.com/commsbio en_US
dc.identifier.citation Montoya-Sanhueza, G., Šaffa, G., Šumbera, R. et al. Fossorial adaptations in African mole-rats (Bathyergidae) and the unique appendicular phenotype of naked mole-rats. Communications Biology 5, 526 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-022-03480-z. en_US
dc.identifier.issn 2399-3642
dc.identifier.other 10.1038/s42003-022-03480-z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2263/90694
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher Nature Research en_US
dc.rights © The Author(s) 2022. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. en_US
dc.subject Biomechanics en_US
dc.subject Bone development en_US
dc.subject Evolutionary theory en_US
dc.subject African mole-rats (Bathyergidae) en_US
dc.subject Naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) en_US
dc.subject Fossorial adaptation en_US
dc.title Fossorial adaptations in African mole-rats (Bathyergidae) and the unique appendicular phenotype of naked mole-rats en_US
dc.type Article en_US


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