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Class Mammalia
Order Rodentia
Family Heteromyidae

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Dipodomys sp.—Kangaroo Rats // Dipodomys small—Small Kangaroo Rat // Dipodomys agilis—Agile Kangaroo Rat // Dipodomys compactus—Gulf Coast Kangaroo Rat // Dipodomys deserti—Desert Kangaroo Rat // Dipodomys gidleyi—Gidley's Kangaroo Rat // Dipodomys hibbardi—Hibbard's Kangaroo Rat // Dipodomys merriami—Merriam's Kangaroo Rat // Dipodomys merriami/ordii—Merriam's or Ord's Kangaroo Rat // Dipodomys ordii—Ord's Kangaroo Rat // Dipodomys nelsoni/spectabilis—Nelson's or Banner-tailed Kangaroo Rat // Dipodomys spectabilis—Banner-tailed Kangaroo Rat

Dipodomys—Kangaroo Rats

Kangaroo rats received their name because of similarities of locomotion and the morphology that goes with it between these rodents and the marsupials. The hind limbs are massively developed for the size of the animal and the forelimbs diminutive. Other characteristics include huge feet, a very long tail for balance, and an oversized head, thanks to the greatly enlarged bullae.

Kangaroo rats tend to forage in open spaces, using their paws to stuff seeds into the cheek pouches and, with the food safely stored, then retreating to cover. While in the open, they are subject to predation, especially from owls. Owls have feathers adapted for silent flight, but checking their dive upon potential food produces a low frequency sound. This sound apparently is not detected by most rodents. However, laboratory studies indicate that the large bullae of kangaroo rats are specifically adapted to pick up the slight sound made a split second before the rat is in the grip of the owl's talons. In that brief window of time, the rat undertakes a panic jump that may (or may not) save it. Since kangaroo remains tend to be plentiful in owl pellets, it can be assumed that selective pressure for this hearing is strong.

Presence of kangaroo rats in our region is taken to indicate presence of open areas basically free of vegetation (though with bushes or other vegetation nearby for cover).

D. merriami and D. ordii are similar in size (though D. ordii is a bit larger) and may end up identified merely as "Dipodomys" or as "Dipodomys small" (to separate them from D. spectabilis, which is large enough as an adult to be identified by size alone). Identifications to modern species may break down in early sites, since extinct or extralimital species may be present.

Kangaroo rats construct burrows for protection, usually with several openings to the burrow system. As with their relatives, the pocket gophers, they tend to be antisocial except during the breeding season, but two or three species may occur sympatrically.

Dalquest and Stangl (1984b) found that the lower incisor breadth is greater than 1.0 mm in D. spectabilis, 0.8 to 0.95 mm in D. ordii, and less than 0.8 mm in D. merriami. They also found that the alveolar toothrow length would separate the three species, with toothrows of D. spectabilis greater than 5.6 mm, those of D. ordii 4.8-5.5 mm, and those of D. merriami less than 4.75 mm. The incisor breadth is most useful, since the posterior rim of bone adjacent to the alveolus of m3 often is broken away in fossils.

Literature. Dalquest and Stangl 1984b.

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Dipodomys sp.—Kangaroo RatsRegional Pleistocene distribution of Dipodomys sp.

Sites.

Identification only to the generic level likely means that the record is based on material that cannot be identified to a lower taxonomic level or that the species has not been recorded in the literature. The La Brisca specimens are within the size range of D. ordii and D. merriami (Van Devender et al. 1985).

Sites.

Late Blancan: Caballo (Morgan et al. 2011); La Union (Morgan and Lucas 2003); Jack Rabbit Trail, San Timoteo Badlands (Albright 2000).

Irvingtonian: El Casco, San Timoteo Badlands (Albright 2000); El Golfo (Croxen et al. 2007).

Early Irvingtonian: Gypsum Ridge (Wagner and Prothero 2001: cf.).

Late Irvingtonian/Early Rancholabrean: Thorn, Victorville (Jefferson 1991b).

Rancholabrean: Bedford Properties (Jefferson 1991b); Cool Water Coal Gasification Solid Waste Site (Jefferson 1991b); Glen Abbey, Bonita (Jefferson 1991b); Helendale (Jefferson 1991a); Piute Valley (Jefferson 1991b); Silver Lake (Jefferson 1991b); Wilshire Blvd., 10580 The Wilshire, Los Angeles (Jefferson 1991b).

Sangamon: Kelly Pits (Jefferson 1991b); La Brisca (Van Devender et al. 1985); Naval Fuel Reserve Quarry (Jefferson 1991b).

Wisconsin: Carpinteria (Wilson 1933); Costeau Pit (Jefferson 1991b).

Mid Wisconsin: Screaming Neotoma Cave (Glennon 1994).

Mid/Late Wisconsin: Diamond Valley (Springer et al. 2009); Rampart Cave (Lindsay and Tessman 1974).

Late Wisconsin: Antelope Cave (Jefferson 1991b); Falling Arches (Jefferson 1991b); New Water Mountains (Mead et al. 2005); Red Tail Peak Midden (Jefferson 1991b); Tunnel Ridge Midden (Jefferson 1991b).

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Calico Lakes (Jefferson 1991b); Conkling Cavern (Harris 1993c); Kokoweef Cave (Jefferson 1991b); Luz Foundation (Jefferson 1991b); Luz Solar Trough (Jefferson 1991b); Newberry Cave (Jefferson 1991b); Schuiling Cave (Jefferson 1991b); Solar One (Jefferson 1991b).

Literature. Albright 2000; Croxen et al. 2007; Glennon 1994; Harris 1993c; Jefferson 1991b; Lindsay and Tessman 1974; Mead et al. 2005; Morgan and Lucas 2003; Morgan et al. 2011; Springer et al. 2009; Van Devender et al. 1985; Wagner and Prothero 2001; Wilson 1933.

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Dipodomys (small)—Small Kangaroo RatRegional Pleistocene distribution of small Dipodomys.

As noted above, presumably either D. merriami or D. ordii is represented.

Sites.

Early/Early-Mid Wisconsin: Rm Vanishing Floor; Sabertooth Camel Maze (Harris 1993c).

Literature. Harris 1993c.

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Dipodomys sp. A—Unpublished Kangaroo RatRegional Pleistocene distribution of Dipodomys sp. A

According to Murray (2008), a diagnosis was included in a M.S. thesis by Cunningham (1984), but has not formally named nor published.

Sites.

Late Blancan/Irvingtonian: Anza-Borrego (Murray 2008).

Literature. Cunningham 1984; Murray 2008.

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Dipodomys sp. B—Unpublished Kangaroo RatRegional Pleistocene distribution of Dipodomys sp. B

According to Murray (2008), a diagnosis was included in a M.S. thesis by Cunningham (1984), but has not been formally named nor published.

Sites.

Late Blancan/Irvingtonian: Anza-Borrego (Murray 2008).

Literature. Cunningham 1984; Murray 2008.

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Dipodomys agilis Gambel 1848—Agile Kangaroo RatRegional Pleistocene distribution of Dipodomys agilis

Sites.

Sangamon: Naval Housing Unit (Jefferson 1991b: cf.); Newport Bay Mesa (Jefferson 1991b: cf.).

Mid/Late Wisconsin: Rancho La Brea (Stock and Harris.

Late Wisconsin: Maricopa (Jefferson 1991b).

Literature. Jefferson 1991b; Stock and Harris 1992.

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Dipodomys compactus True 1889—Gulf Coast Kangaroo RatRegional Pleistocene distribution of Dipodomys compactus.

Sites.

Irvingtonian: Anza-Borrego (Murray 2008).

Literature. Murray 2008.

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Dipodomys deserti Stephens 1887—Desert Kangaroo RatRegional Pleistocene distribution of Dipodomys deserti.

Sites.

Rancholabrean: Saltmarsh (Jefferson 1991b); Siphon 11 (Jefferson 1991b).

Literature. Jefferson 1991b.

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Dipodomys gidleyi Wood 1935—Gidley's Kangaroo RatRegional Pleistocene distribution of Dipodomys gidleyi.

Sites.

Late Blancan: 111 Ranch (Morgan and White 2005); Curtis Ranch (Morgan and White 2005).

Literature. Morgan and White 2005.

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Dipodomys hibbardi Zakrzewski 1981—Hibbard's Kangaroo RatRegional Pleistocene distribution of Dipodomys hibbardi.

Dipodomys hibbardi was described by Zakrzewski (1981) as approximately evolutionarily intermediate between Prodipodomys and the living Dipodomys compactus, with shorter dentine tracts than the living form, but higher than in Prodipodomys. He also pointed out that root development was intermediate.

Sites.

Late Blancan: 111 Ranch (Morgan and White 2005); Anza-Borrego (Murray 2008); San Simon Fauna (Morgan and White 2005).

Literature. Morgan and White 2005; Murray 2008; Zakrzewski 1981.

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Dipodomys ingens (Merriam 1904)—Giant Kangaroo RatRegional Pleistocene distribution of Dipodomys ingens

Sites.

Mid Wisconsin: McKittrick (Schultz 1937: cf.).

Literature. Schultz 1937.

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Dipodomys merriami Mearns 1890—Merriam's Kangaroo RatRegional Pleistocene distribution of Dipodomys merriami.

Merriam's Kangaroo Rat is an arid-land species essentially limited to Lower Sonoran habitats. It tends to prefer firmer soils than Ord's Kangaroo Rat. However, there may be overlap in habitat usage, and at times both of these smaller species may be taken in the same trap line.

Skulls of Dipodomys merriami and Dipodomys ordiiAside from the discriminatory measurements recorded in the generic account, the auditory bullae tend to be somewhat differently developed than in D. ordii. This and other subtle differences can be seen in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1. Comparison of the skulls of D. merriami (left) and D. ordii. Scale is in mm.

Although reported from the Isleta Caves (1993c), it does not seem to be vouchered and is rejected.

Sites.

Rancholabrean: Saltmarsh (Jefferson 1991b).

Rancholabrean/?Early Holocene: Mitchell Caverns (Jefferson 1991b: aff.).

Mid Wisconsin: Castle Mountains (Mead et al. 2005).

Late Wisconsin: Murray Springs (Mead et al. 2005); Wellton Hills (Mead et al. 2005: cf.); Wolcott Peak (Mead et al. 2005).

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Fowlkes Cave (Dalquest and Stangl 1984b); Howell's Ridge Cave (Harris 1993c); Pendejo Cave (Harris 2003)

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Isleta Caves (Harris 1993c), rejected.

Literature. Dalquest and Stangl 1984b; Harris 1993c, 2003; Jefferson 1991b; Mead et al. 2005.

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Dipodomys merriami/D. ordii—Merriam's or Ord's Kangaroo RatPleistocene distribution of Dipodomys merriami/ordii.

The material on which the following records are based are of a nature not allowing discrimination between the two species.

Sites.

Mid Wisconsin: Tank Trap Wash (Van Devender et al. 1987).

Late Wisconsin: Algerita Blossom Cave (Harris 1993c); Balcony Room (UTEP); Dry Cave <13 ka (Harris 1993c); Navar Ranch (Van Devender et al. 1987); Pendejo Cave (Harris 2003); Picacho Peak (Van Devender et al. 1991); Steeruwitz Hills #1(3) (Van Devender and Bradley 1990).

Wisconsin/Holocene: Isleta Cave No. 2 (UTEP).

Literature. Harris 1993c, 2003; Van Devender and Bradley 1990; Van Devender et al. 1987, 1991.

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Dipodomys ordii Woodhouse 1853—Ord's Kangaroo RatPleistocene distribution of Dipodomys ordii.

Unlike D. merriami, which has a southern distribution, D. ordii ranges in the West from southern Canada deep into Mexico. It prefers sandy soils, but may occur in various aspects of grassland and shrubby habitats. It only marginally ranges as high as woodland.

Synonyms. Perodipus montanus.

Sites.

Irvingtonian/Early Rancholabrean: Archer (Jefferson 1991b).

Early/Early-Mid Wisconsin: Lost Valley (Harris 1993c).

Mid Wisconsin: Pendejo Cave (Harris 2003).

Mid/Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Sierra Diablo Cave (UTEP).

Late Wisconsin: Blackwater Loc. No. 1 (Morgan and Lucas 2005); Charlies Parlor (Harris 1993c: cf.); Human Corridor (Harris 1993c: cf.); U-Bar Cave (Harris 1993c: cf.).

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Burnet Cave (Schultz and Howard 1935; Fowlkes Cave (Dalquest and Stangl 1984b); Howell's Ridge Cave (Harris 1993c); Pendejo Cave (Harris 2003); Sheep Camp Shelter (Harris 1993c).

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Isleta Cave No. 1 (Harris 1993c) Rejected

Literature. Dalquest and Stangl 1984b; Harris 1993c, 2003; 1991b; Morgan and Lucas 2005; Schultz and Howard 1935.

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Dipodomys nelsoni/spectabilis—Nelson's or Banner-tailed Kangaroo RatPleistocene distribution of Dipodomys nelsoni/spectabilis.

The region about Jimenez Cave is one of the few areas where Dipodomys nelsoni and D. spectabilis are sympatric (Best 1988). Both species are large with only modest size differences between the two.

Sites.

Mid/Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Jimenez Cave (Messing 1986).

Literature. Best 1988; Messing 1986.

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Dipodomys spectabilis Merriam 1890—Banner-tailed Kangaroo RatPleistocene distribution of Dipodomys spectabilis.

Regional distribution of Dipodomys spectabilisThe Banner-tailed Kangaroo Rat is enough larger than D. merriami and D. ordii as to usually be identifiable on size alone. The current northern limits of distribution is near the Four-corners area of New Mexico.

Fig. 1. Approximate distribution of the taxon in the eastern part of our region. The heavy line shows the approximate limits of the present-day Chihuahuan Desert.

This is primarily a grassland and desert-grassland animal that extends into desert. However, its widespread occurrence in late Wisconsin times suggests a wider ecological niche than is apparent today. It generally builds a large (6 ± ft diameter) mound of dirt with several burrow entrances.

Dipodomys spectabilis   Mound of Dipodomys spectabilis

Fig. 2. Dipodomys spectabilis. Fig. 3. Mound of Dipodomys spectabilis. Figs. 2 and 3 after Bailey (1931).

Sites.

Early/Early-Mid Wisconsin: Lost Valley (Harris 1993c).

Mid Wisconsin: Pendejo Cave (Harris 2003); Tank Trap Wash (Van Devender et al. 1987); U-Bar Cave (Harris 1987: cf.).

Mid/Late Wisconsin: Animal Fair (Harris 1993c); Dark Canyon Cave (Tebedge 1988); Navar Ranch (Van Devender et al. 1987).

Mid/Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Sierra Diablo Cave (UTEP).

Late Wisconsin: Algerita Blossom Cave (Harris 1993c); Balcony Room (UTEP); Bison Chamber (Harris 1970a); Dust Cave (Harris and Hearst 2012); Human Corridor (Harris 1993c); Pendejo Cave (Harris 1993c); TT II (Harris 1993c); Pendejo Cave (Harris 2003); U-Bar Cave 13-14 ka (Harris 1989); cf.); U-Bar Cave 14-15 ka (Harris 1989); U-Bar Cave 15-18 ka (Harris 1989; cf.); U-Bar Cave 18-20 ka (Harris 1989: cf.).

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Beyond Bison Chamber (Harris 1970a); Conkling Cavern (UTEP); Deadman Cave (Mead et al. 1984); Fowlkes Cave (Dalquest and Stangl 1984b); Howell's Ridge Cave (Harris 1993c); Isleta Cave No. 1 (UTEP); Pendejo Cave (Harris 2003).

Holocene:Isleta Cave No. 2 (Harris 1993c), reject as Holocene.

Literature. Bailey 1931; Dalquest and Stangl 1984b; Harris 1970a, 1987, 1989, 1993c, 2003; Harris and Hearst 2012; Mead et al. 1984; Tebedge 1988; Van Devender et al. 1987.

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Last Update: 14 Apr 2014