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Functional characterization of ungulate molars using the abrasion-attrition wear gradient : a new method for reconstructing paleodiets. American Museum novitates ; no. 3301

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dc.contributor.author Fortelius, Mikael. en_US
dc.contributor.author Solounias, Nikos. en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2005-10-06T16:44:30Z
dc.date.available 2005-10-06T16:44:30Z
dc.date.issued 2000 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2246/2957
dc.description 36 p. : ill. ; 26 cm. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (p. 33-35). en_US
dc.description.abstract The analysis of fossil ungulate cheek teeth has long been one of the main sources of information about the terrestrial environments of the Cenozoic, but the methods used to extract this information have been either imprecise or prohibitively laborious. Here we present a method based on relative facet development that is quantitative, robust, and rapid. This method, which we term mesowear analysis, is based on the physical properties of ungulate foods as reflected in the relative amounts of attritive and abrasive wear that they cause on the dental enamel of the occlusal surfaces. Mesowear was recorded by examining the buccal apices of molar tooth cusps. Apices were characterized as sharp, rounded, or blunt, and the valleys between them either high or low. The method has been developed only for selenodont and trilophodont molars, but the principle is readily extendable to other crown types. Mesowear analysis is insensitive to wear stage as long as the very early and very late stages are excluded. Cluster analysis of the mesowear variables produces clusters reflecting four main groups from abrasion-dominated to attrition-dominated: grazers, graze-dominated mixed feeders, browse-dominated mixed feeders, and browsers. Most of the relatively few apparent anomalies are explained by more detailed dietary information. Mesowear analysis provides resolution within the main dietary classes and the clustering is virtually identical with and without the index of hypsodonty. Discriminant analysis using all mesowear variables and hypsodonty showed an overall correct classification of 76% of 64 species of living ungulates into the conventional dietary categories of browser, grazer, and mixed feeder, while a smaller set of 27 "typical" species was correctly classified at 96%. Alternative "conservative" and "radical" dietary classifications that were employed to accommodate cases where dietary information was controversial or unclear produced only marginally different results. Mesowear analysis successfully resolved a test case using the Serengeti grazing succession and appears to be superior to microwear analysis in two cases where the diet of fossil ungulates has been previously studied by microwear and other conventional methods. en_US
dc.format.extent 569478 bytes
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language eng en_US
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher New York, NY : American Museum of Natural History en_US
dc.relation.ispartofseries American Museum novitates ; no. 3301 en_US
dc.subject.lcc QL1 .A436 no.3301 2000 en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Ungulates, Fossil -- Food. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Teeth, Fossil. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Molars. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Teeth -- Abrasion. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Paleontology -- Methodology. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Paleontology -- Cenozoic. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Ungulates -- Food. en_US
dc.title Functional characterization of ungulate molars using the abrasion-attrition wear gradient : a new method for reconstructing paleodiets. American Museum novitates ; no. 3301 en_US
dc.title.alternative Ungulate molars en_US
dc.type text en_US


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  • American Museum Novitates
    Novitates (Latin for "new acquaintances"), published continuously and numbered consecutively since 1921, are short papers that contain descriptions of new forms and reports in zoology, paleontology, and geology. New numbers are published at irregular intervals.

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