A 16-Ma record of paleodiet using carbon and oxygen isotopes in fossil teeth from Pakistan

Jay Quade, Thure E. Cerlinga, John C. Barry, Michele E. Morgan, David R. Pilbeam, Allan R. Chivas, Julia A. Lee-Thorp, Nikolaas J. van der Merwe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

229 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Siwalik Sequence of northern Pakistan contains a 16-Ma record of paleosol carbonate and fossil teeth from which a record of paleovegetation can potentially be reconstructed and compared. The carbon isotopic composition of paleosol carbonate and organic matter from Siwalik strata reflects a major paleoecological change on the floodplains of major rivers beginning ∼ 7.3 Ma ago. By 6 Ma C3-dominated plant communities, probably composed of mostly trees and shrubs, were displaced by nearly continuous C4 grassland. We find that the carbon isotopic ratios in herbivore tooth enamel reflect this dramatic ecologic shift. Carbonate in enamel older than 7 Ma averages -11‰ in δ13CPDB, consistent with a largely C3 diet. Enamel from the Plio-Pleistocene averages +1.9‰ in δ13C, similar to the value displayed by modern C4 grazers. Analysis of post-burial carbonate cements, and the concordance with isotopic evidence from paleosols argues strongly against major isotopic alteration of the enamel, while coexisting bone may have been altered early in burial. This study confirms that enamel apatite is useful for paleodietary reconstruction much further back in the geologic record than was previously thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-192
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Geology: Isotope Geoscience Section
Volume94
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 5 1992
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Oxygen Isotopes
Carbon Isotopes
enamel
Enamels
Carbonates
tooth
carbon isotope
oxygen isotope
fossil
paleosol
carbonate
Carbon
Tooth enamel
Apatites
Nutrition
C3 plant
Biological materials
carbon
Bone
Cements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)

Cite this

Quade, J., Cerlinga, T. E., Barry, J. C., Morgan, M. E., Pilbeam, D. R., Chivas, A. R., ... van der Merwe, N. J. (1992). A 16-Ma record of paleodiet using carbon and oxygen isotopes in fossil teeth from Pakistan. Chemical Geology: Isotope Geoscience Section, 94(3), 183-192. https://doi.org/10.1016/0168-9622(92)90011-X

A 16-Ma record of paleodiet using carbon and oxygen isotopes in fossil teeth from Pakistan. / Quade, Jay; Cerlinga, Thure E.; Barry, John C.; Morgan, Michele E.; Pilbeam, David R.; Chivas, Allan R.; Lee-Thorp, Julia A.; van der Merwe, Nikolaas J.

In: Chemical Geology: Isotope Geoscience Section, Vol. 94, No. 3, 05.03.1992, p. 183-192.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Quade, J, Cerlinga, TE, Barry, JC, Morgan, ME, Pilbeam, DR, Chivas, AR, Lee-Thorp, JA & van der Merwe, NJ 1992, 'A 16-Ma record of paleodiet using carbon and oxygen isotopes in fossil teeth from Pakistan', Chemical Geology: Isotope Geoscience Section, vol. 94, no. 3, pp. 183-192. https://doi.org/10.1016/0168-9622(92)90011-X
Quade, Jay ; Cerlinga, Thure E. ; Barry, John C. ; Morgan, Michele E. ; Pilbeam, David R. ; Chivas, Allan R. ; Lee-Thorp, Julia A. ; van der Merwe, Nikolaas J. / A 16-Ma record of paleodiet using carbon and oxygen isotopes in fossil teeth from Pakistan. In: Chemical Geology: Isotope Geoscience Section. 1992 ; Vol. 94, No. 3. pp. 183-192.
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