Virtual cranial reconstruction of Hispanomys moralesi (Rodentia, Mammalia) from Cerro de los Batallones (upper Miocene, Spain)

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El Cerro de los Batallones is one of the most important fossil sites of the Miocene. The quantity and preservation of its fossil remains have allowed us to describe many new mammal species. One of these is Hispanomys moralesi, a derived species of the Tribe Cricetodontini, a wide group of rodents with great importance in the faunal assemblage during the Miocene. Unlike most fossil micromammals in this fossil site, we have obtained skull remains that preserve never recorded anatomical structures in this time interval. Due to the fragility of the material, it could only be studied in detail using X-ray micro-computed tomography (µ-CT Scan). With this technique, we obtained three-dimensional models of 12 skulls of Hispanomys moralesi, in which different osteological parts have been described. In this way, we compared the morphological variation of the skull with other fossil cricetids and concluded that Batallones’ species is an opisthodont rodent, with a relatively elongated rostrum, a robust base of zygomatic arches and big-sized tooth rows. Opisthodont incisor characterises omnivore and herbivore diets in rodents. Therefore, these new findings of Hispanomys moralesi could allow us to describe the dietary affinities of this extinct species.
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