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The Evolution of Feeding Adaptations of the Aquatic Sloth Thalassocnus

Christian De Muizon, H. Gregory McDonald, Rodolfo Salas and Mario Urbina
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jul. 11, 2004), pp. 398-410
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4524727
Page Count: 13
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The Evolution of Feeding Adaptations of the Aquatic Sloth Thalassocnus
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Abstract

The aquatic sloth Thalassocnus is represented by five species that lived along the coast of Peru from the late Miocene through the late Pliocene. A detailed comparison of the cranial and mandibular anatomy of these species indicates different feeding adaptations. The three older species of Thalassocnus (T. antiquus, T. natans, and T. littoralis) were probably partial grazers (intermediate or mixed feeders) and the transverse component of mandibular movement was very minor, if any. They were probably feeding partially on stranded sea weeds or sea grasses, or in very shallow waters (less than 1 m) as indicated by the abundant dental striae of their molariform teeth created by ingestion of sand. The two younger species (7". carolomartini and T. yaucensis) were more specialized grazers than the three older species and had a distinct transverse component in their mandibular movement. Their teeth almost totally lack dental striae. These two species were probably feeding exclusively in the water at a greater depth than the older species.

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