The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Paleodietary implications of the Pliopithecidae from dental microwear and relative enamel thickness of two Iberian taxa


1Faunas del Neógeno y Cuaternario, Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont, 2Paleontología Virtual, Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont, 3Paleoprimatología y Paleontología Humana, Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont

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The pliopithecid subfamilies Pliopithecinae and Crouzeliinae differ in tooth occlusal details, with the latter displaying sharper crests and more compressed cusps. Such differences have been traditionally interpreted as indicating higher levels of folivory in crouzeliines. We review paleodietary evolution in pliopithecids, by further providing new data on dental microwear (DM) analysis and 2D relative enamel thickness (RET) for two Iberian pliopithecids: Pliopithecus canmatensis from Abocador de Can Mata locality ACM/C5-A8 (MN8, 11.7 Ma); and Crouzeliinae gen. nov. from Castell de Barberà (CB; MN8 or MN9, ca. 11.2-10.5 Ma). The latter is interpreted as a basal crouzeliine sharing dental synapomorphies with Anapithecus, but having evolved from a pliopithecine ancestor similar to P. canmatensis. DM indicates that pliopithecids were intermediate between extant frugivores and hard-object feeders. In particular, discriminant analyses classify P. canmatensis and other pliopithecines as hard-object feeders, whereas the CB taxon and Anapithecus are classified as frugivores with some sclerocarpic component. The two Iberian taxa displayed a thin-enameled (RET<11.31) condition, and may be inferred to have exhibited a significant folivorous component. DM results are somewhat at odds with this thin-enameled condition, which a priori would be more suitable for frugivory, suggesting that RET is highly influenced by phylogenetic constraints. We therefore interpret results as indicating a more sclerocarpic component for pliopithecids than previously reported. Overall, this suggests that crouzeliine evolution might be related to decreased sclerocarpy instead of increased folivory. However, further research is required for assessing the role of dietary niche partitioning during the Miocene radiation of the Pliopithecidae.

This work has been supported by the Generalitat de Catalunya (2009 SGR 754 GRC), and the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (CGL2008-00325/BTE, CGL2010-21672/BTE and RYC-2009-04533 to DMA).

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