In the Department of Biology (National University of Mar del Plata), began about 18 years ago a research line focused on bone and muscle anatomy and function. The investigations pointed principally to the South American rodent genus Ctenomys (Caviomorpha; Ctenomyidae), a subterranean mammal known as tuco tucos, occult, tunduques and other common names. Over time, this line of inquiry included other species of caviomorph rodents with different way of life and ecology. Our studies focused also on the behavior of these animals, both under field and laboratory conditions, combined with the estimation of biomechanical parameters of bones. We are interested in measuring the forces implicated in mastication and locomotion. The evolutionary context is a central aspect of our research. Currently, we collaborate with the Histology research group on the subject of histology, histochemistry and function of masticatory and limb muscles. In occasions, contributions have been made on particular aspects of the structure of raptors birds and rays (Biondi 2010; Lucífora and Vassallo, 2002). At present, this research line is carried out by the group Functional Morphology and Behavior.

Functional morphology in caviomorphic rodents. Subjects: Anatomical and physiological analysis of the mandibular apparatus. Biomechanics and allometry. Locomotion. Emphasis on the subterranean rodent genus Ctenomys.
This research line aims to understand the diversity and morphological evolution in a group of South American rodents (Suborder Caviomorpha), emphasizing adaptations to different modes of life, habitat and locomotion. Being a relatively narrow taxonomic group, since it is an infraorder within the Order Rodentia, caviomorph rodents display one of the greatest ecological, morphological and locomotion modes.
Considering a simple trait such as body size, caviomorphs show great diversity. This group includes species whose weight varies from 150 g (certain species of tuco tucos, genus Ctenomys), to species that exceed 15 kg (the aquatic coipo, genus Myocastor), reaching 60 kg in the capybara. There were species of caviomorfos, now extinct, that may have exceeded 1 ton of body weight.

Biomechanics of the mandibular apparatus
The use of finite element analysis, a technique developed by engineers, allows us to study the structure of the mandible and other parts of the skeleton.

Functional morphology and behavior in the bird of prey Milvago chimango. Subjects: Behavior in urban and peri urban environments. Novelty responses. Exploratory behavior.
This line of research aims to understand some of the factors that underlie the huge ecological plasticity of this raptor bird, and how they allow the occupation of diverse environments, even those occupied and modified by human activity. During the last years studies were focusing on learning, both individual and social, in its relation with neophobia, that is, aversion to novel situations or objects. These studies are led by Dr. Laura Marina Biondi. We have seen that chimangos are capable to behave in an innovative way, solving problems related to access to food.

Director
Dr. Aldo Iván Vassallo
Researchers
Dr.Federico Becerra
Dra. Laura Marina Biondi
Dra. Alejandra Isabel Echeverría
Lic. Guido Buezas
Dr. Federico Becerra