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Vombatus ursinus

Adult, Extant, Mandible

Alt Name:
Common wombat
Specimen ID:
Additional Media:
This is a model of the mandible of Vombatus ursinus, a grazing marsupial from Australia. The data was collected from CT scans of a road killed specimen collected under a research permit from the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment to receive and retain specimens of wildlife found dead from natural or accidental causes (Flora and Fauna Permit number 10005574). Sex: female
Sharp, A.C., Trusler, P.W.
PLoS ONE 10(2): e0117730. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0117730
Wombats are unique among marsupials in having one pair of upper incisors, and hypsodont molars for processing tough, abrasive vegetation. Of the three extant species, the most abundant, the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), has had the least attention in terms of masticatory muscle morphology, and has never been thoroughly described. Using MRI and digital dissection to compliment traditional gross dissections, the major jaw adductor muscles, the masseter, temporalis and pterygoids, were described. The masseter and medial pterygoid muscles are greatly enlarged compared to other marsupials. This, in combination with the distinctive form and function of the dentition, most likely facilitates processing a tough, abrasive diet. The broad, flat skull and large masticatory muscles are well suited to generate a very high bite force. MRI scans allow more detail of the muscle morphology to be observed and the technique of digital dissections greatly enhances the knowledge obtained from gross dissections.