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The mammal assemblages of the hominid fossiliferous area of Toros-Menalla (Late Miocene, Chad Basin): ecological structure and palaeoenvironmental implications
 
SVPCA Conference
 
Platform presentation (20 minutes)
Authors
 
*Michel Brunet
,
 
Emmanuel Fara
 
 
Soizic Le Fur
 
 
Hassane Taïsso Mackaye
 
 
Patrick Vignaud
 
Abstract
 
Characterising the palaeoenvironmental context of the earliest hominids is a key issue for understanding their behavioural and morphological evolution, especially since the recent discoveries of Late Miocene hominids in Africa. The earliest known hominid, Sahelanthropus tchadensis (Brunet et al. 2002, 2005), was discovered in the Anthracotheriid Unit (AU) of the Toros-Menalla area (northern Chad) in association with a rich vertebrate fauna. It was biochronologically and isotopically dated to 7 Ma (Vignaud et al. 2002; Lebatard et al. 2008). The characterization of this fossil assemblage is crucial because it is the only Late Miocene faunal record from Central Africa. Moreover, it documents an important period of global climatic change (Cerling et al. 1997), associated with the opening of landscapes and the setting up of modern East African ecosystems (Leakey et al. 1996).
Here we provide a quantitative assessment of the structure of the Toros-Menalla mammal assemblages from the AU in order to investigate their palaeoenvironmental significance. First we analyse the relative abundances of taxa and their habitat preferences. The resulting taxonomic structure is used to reconstruct the diversity and the relative extent of the habitats represented. Second, the distribution of taxa within three meaningful ecovariables (locomotion, feeding preferences and body mass) is confronted to the ecological structure of modern African environments.
London 2020