Extinct populations of Terricola savii have been investigated in order to analyze evolutionary stasis and correlation of first lower molar shape with climatic proxies by means of geometric morphometrics. Evolutionary stasis, its recognition and explanation are central topics in evolutionary paleobiology. In this study, tooth shape variation of the arvicolid T. savii has been analyzed through time. In addition to explicit multivariate tests of stasis based on landmark and semi-landmark geometric morphometrics, first lower molar M1 shape has been decomposed in orthogonal axes of variation and tested for correlation with climate changes. Multivariate tests were consistent with evolutionary stasis. Yet, according to univariate tests, the dominant dimension of shape variation shows a temporal trend well correlated with a climatic proxy, i.e. δ18O. The remaining variation does not show any trend. Adaptation to current climatic condition might occur even without affecting shape as a whole. Phenotypic plasticity of this species could be invoked to explain evolutionary stasis, as a long time pattern.
Piras, P., Marcolini, F., Raia, P., Curcio, M.T., Kotsakis, A. (2009). Testing evolutionary stasis and trends in first lower molar shape of extinct Italian populations of Terricola savii (Arvicolidae, Rodentia) by means of Geometric Morphometrics. JOURNAL OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY, 22, 179-191 [10.1111/j.1420-9101.2008.01632.x].