The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


RECONSTRUCTING THE ECOLOGY OF A FOREST IN LATE MIOCENE CENTRAL EUROPE USING STABLE ISOTOPE AND TRACE ELEMENT ANALYSES

LAURA C. EASTHAM1, ROBERT S. FERANEC2, DAVID R. BEGUN1 and LASZLO KORDOS3.

1Anthropology, University of Toronto, 2Geology, New York State Museum, 3Paleontology, Geological Institute of Hungary

Thursday 11:30-11:45, Ballroom C Add to calendar

The faunal assemblage at Rudabánya, a Late Miocene (~10 Ma) primate locality in northern central Hungary, preserves an abundance of forest-dwelling taxa, including a hominoid, Rudapithecus hungaricus, and pliopithecoid, Anapithecus hernyaki. The co-occurrence of these catarrhines at Rudabánya represents one of the very few localities in Eurasia where a hominoid and pliopithecoid coexist. Reconstructing the unique paleoecology of this spatially and temporally rare site is critical to understanding the context of hominoid evolution in Europe. To evaluate forest structure, climatic regime, and resource partitioning we examine stable carbon (δ13C) and oxygen (δ18O) isotope values in correlation with trace element ratios (Sr/Ca) in the dental enamel of ten genera of medium to large bodied herbivores. δ13C and Sr/Ca values suggest a mosaic C3 forest environment, ranging from dense closed canopy to more open woodland settings. The observed δ18O values are similar to what is found in modern humid temperate environments. Intra-tooth δ18O values for all sampled taxa reveal a pattern of seasonal enamel growth. Significant differences in stable isotope and trace element values exist between taxa implying competition and partitioning in resource use. Hippotherium intrans (Equidae) and Lucentia aff. pierensis (Cervidae), show more positive δ13C values and the highest Sr/Ca ratios, suggesting feeding on irradiated vegetation in open woodland settings. More negative δ13C values and lower Sr/Ca ratios found in Miotragocerus sp. (Bovidae), Tetralophodon longirostris (Gomphotheriidae), and Aceratherium incisivum (Rhinocerotidae), suggest browsing on fruit in more densely forested environments. These results provide insight into the paleoecological context of European hominoid evolution.

This research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, the National Geographic Society, Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Geological Society of America Research Award, and General Motors Women in Science and Mathematics Award.

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