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      Functional-adaptive anatomy of the forelimb in the Didelphidae, and the paleobiology of the Paleocene marsupials Mayulestes ferox and Pucadelphys andinus.

      Journal of Morphology

      Adaptation, Physiological, Animals, Biological Evolution, Biomechanical Phenomena, Forelimb, anatomy & histology, physiology, Fossils, Humerus, Locomotion, Marsupialia, Muscle, Skeletal, Opossums, Radius, Scapula, Shoulder Joint, Ulna, ultrastructure

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          An attempt to determine the locomotor activities of Mayulestes ferox (Borhyaenoidea) and Pucadelphys andinus (Didelphoidea) from the early Paleocene site of Tiupampa (Bolivia) is presented. The functional anatomy of the forelimbs of these South American marsupials is compared to that of some living didelphids: Caluromys philander, Micoureus demerarae, Marmosa murina, Didelphis marsupialis, Monodelphis brevicaudata and Metachirus nudicaudatus. Deductions from bone morphology to myology and locomotor behavior in the fossils are inferred from the comparisons with living forms. Some features of the postcranial skeleton, indicative of arboreal adaptations, are found in the extinct marsupials: anteriorly projected acromion, hemispherical head of the humerus, extended humeral lateral epicondylar ridge, medially protruding humeral entepicondyle, proximal ulnar posterior convexity, and deep flexor fossa on the medial side of the ulna. But other features are related to a more terrestrial pattern: the well-developed tubercles of the humeral head, the elongated olecranon process of the ulna, and the oval shape of the radial head. Mayulestes had clear arboreal abilities, but, as a predaceous mammal, probably hunted on the ground. Pucadelphys was less specialized, close to the living Monodelphis, a terrestrial insectivorous form with some skeletal features related to arboreal locomotion that are probably plesiomorphic for marsupials. Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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