1998 Volume 60 Issue 10 Pages 1097-1105
The lesser mouse deer (Tragulus javanicus) is one of the most primitive ruminants. Skulls of lesser mouse deer were measured to evaluate their growth. The age was estimated from the eruption and attrition of molars on the mandible. A total of 95 specimens was divided into five age groups, and the growth pattern in each sex was established for some measurements. The relative growth coefficients were calculated for the head and body length and several parts of the cranium and mandible against the profile length. Sexual dimorphism could not be found on the skull in any age group except for measurements related to the upper canine. However, females showed a higher value in head and body length in the oldest group. This feature was consistent with an interpretation of mouse deer society as monogamous. Growth was more rapid in length than in width. Various statistical analyses showed that the visceral cranium related to masticatory facility was much better developed than the neurocranium. However, observations on the shape of the mandible ramus and of the premolars implied that the masticatory function was not suitable for taking roughage. This speculation agreed with previous reports on the feeding habits and digestive organs of the mouse deer.