Document Detail

Evidence for rodent-common and species-typical limb and digit use in eating, derived from a comparative analysis of ten rodent species.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  9821545     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Order Rodentia comprises a vast portion of mammalian species (1814 species), which occupy extremely diverse habitats requiring very distinct motor specializations (e.g. burrowing, hopping, climbing, flying and swimming). Although early classification of paw use ability suggests rodents are impoverished relative to primates and make little use of their paws, there have been no systematic investigations of paw use in rodents. The present study was undertaken to describe limb/paw movements in a variety of common rodents. The movements used for handling sunflower seeds and other foods were videorecorded and analyzed in the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus), Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus), Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus), laboratory mouse (Mus musculus), laboratory rat (Rattus norvegicus), gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), Richardson's ground squirrel (Spermophilus richardsonni), prairie dog (Cynomus parvidens), and Canadian beaver (Castor americanus). The results suggested five order-common movements of food handling: (1) locating food by sniffing, (2) grasping food by mouth, (3) sitting back on the haunches to eat, (4) grasping the food using an elbow-in movement, and (5) manipulate the food with the digits. Different species displayed species-typical specializations including (1) bilateral grasping with the paws (gerbil), (2) unilateral grasping with a paw (beaver), (3) unilateral holding (ground squirrels), (4) various grip and digit postures (all species), (5) unilateral object removal from the mouth (gerbil), (6) bilateral thumb holding (squirrels), and (7) simultaneous holding/manipulation of two objects (squirrels). Only the guinea pig did not handle food with its paws, suggesting its behavior is regressive. The existence of a core pattern of paw and digit use in rodents suggests that skilled limb and paw movements originate at least with the common ancestors of the rodent, and likely the common ancestor to rodent and primate lineages, while species-typical movements suggest specialization/regression of limb use has occurred in a number of mammalian orders.
I Q Whishaw; J R Sarna; S M Pellis
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Behavioural brain research     Volume:  96     ISSN:  0166-4328     ISO Abbreviation:  Behav. Brain Res.     Publication Date:  1998 Nov 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1999-02-05     Completed Date:  1999-02-05     Revised Date:  2006-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8004872     Medline TA:  Behav Brain Res     Country:  NETHERLANDS    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  79-91     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
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MeSH Terms
Feeding Behavior / physiology*
Forelimb / physiology*
Guinea Pigs
Hand Strength / physiology
Movement / physiology
Rodentia / psychology*
Species Specificity
Videotape Recording

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