Rodents are important components of most modern ecosystems. Understanding their roles in paleocommunities requires robust methods for inferring diet and other autecological characteristics. This pilot study tests whether a relationship between incisor morphology and diet exists among extant rodents that might be used to infer diets of extinct species. We focused on 11 genera of caviomorph rodents classified in 3 dietary categories: fruit–leaf, fruit–seed, and grass–leaf. For each genus 6 variables describing morphology of the upper incisor were measured on 5 specimens. Data were analyzed using a series of stepwise discriminant analyses. Discriminant analyses correctly predicted diets of nearly all training cases (~95%) using 4 incisor characteristics. Five additional species (1 caviomorph and 4 noncaviomorph), treated as unknowns, also were classified correctly. Jackknife analyses correctly predicted diets of approximately two-thirds of training cases. Our study indicates that incisor morphology is related to diet in extant caviomorph rodents. Incisor data therefore might be useful for inferring diets of extinct species.
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