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Dietary change in a plant eating mammal across the Eocene/Oligocene transition
 
SVPCA Conference
 
Platform presentation (20 minutes)
Authors
 
*Margaret E Collinson
 
 
Jerry J Hooker
 
 
Sarah C Joomun
,
Abstract
 
The Late Eocene to Early Oligocene was a period of considerable climatic change, from greenhouse to icehouse conditions. The 'Grande Coupure' (Stehlin, 1910) was a major mammalian faunal turnover which occurred in the Early Oligocene. Most of the endemic European mammal fauna became extinct and there was a large number of incoming taxa from southwest Asia. The perissodactyls were one of the groups most significantly affected by this event, which was coincident with the first major glaciation of the Cenozoic (Oi-1) (Hooker et al., 2004). Two possible causes have been suggested for the Grande Coupure: climatic events (Legendre, 1989; Blondel, 1992) and competitive exclusion by the incoming mammals from Asia (Hooker, 2000). The perissodactyl Plagiolophus minor is the only member of the endemic European family Palaeotheriidae to survive the Grande Coupure and whose lineage continued into the middle Oligocene (Jehenne and Brunet, 1992).

Dental microwear takes the form of pits and scratches on the tooth enamel which are only visible under a microscope. It is produced by the interaction of the food and other ingested material with the teeth and can be used to determine changes in the diet and palaeoenvironment. The dental microwear of Plagiolophus minor from sites in Western Europe from both before (MP 18 and 20) and after the Grande Coupure (MP 21) was studied in order to assess any changes in the diet across this turnover, and hence whether there is any evidence of palaeoenvironmental change. The implications of these results will be discussed.

London 2020