A geometric morphometric analysis of the shape of the first upper molar in mice of the genus Mus (Muridae, Rodentia)


Miloš Macholán, Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics, Academy of Science of the Czech Republic, Veveří 97, CZ-60200 Brno, Czech Republic.
Email: macholan@iach.cz


Phenotypic variation in the shape of the first upper molar among 595 mice, representing nine extant and three extinct taxa of the genus Mus, was studied with thin-plate spline analysis. The reliability of classification of individual specimens into known groups based on their molars varied from 75 to 100%, depending on group and method used. Including 13 sliding semilandmarks to the analysis improved the detection of different kinds of size and shape variation as well as visualization of shape differences between studied groups. Correlation between phylogenetic and morphometric distances suggested about 80% contribution of phylogenetic inertia to the molar shape variation; moreover, the importance of localized versus global shape changes was similar in the detection of phylogenetic signals. Finally, shape changes along individual evolutionary lineages were revealed, suggesting a few cases of reversals, convergence and/or retention of ancestral shape. The evolution of mouse molars has thus been driven by random effects of drift together with stabilizing selection and convergence.