Paleodietary reconstruction of Miocene faunas from Paşalar, Turkey using stable carbon and oxygen isotopes of fossil tooth enamel

Jay Quade, Thure E. Cerling, Peter Andrews, Berna Alpagut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

83 Scopus citations

Abstract

Miocene-age (∼ 15 Ma) deposits at Paşalar in northwest Turkey contain abundant and well-preserved dental remains from a variety of herbivores. We used the carbon and oxygen isotopic compositions of inorganic carbonate in enamel from these teeth to reconstruct the paleodiet and sources of body water, respectively, of Miocene mammals. The δ13C (PDB) values of carbonate in the enamel fall between -13·5 and -9·0%, indicating a diet dominated by C3 plants for all mammals. Some species are distinctly different isotopically from others, likely reflecting on variation in the δ13C values of the plants being consumed. Giraffokeryx and Caprotragoides display the most depleted δ13C values, probably indicating they were feeding upon C3 plants experiencing low water stress and/or CO2 recycling, such as in a forest. Hypsodontus and Conohyus, on the other hand, consistently display the most enriched δ13C values. They were therefore consuming isotopically enriched C3 plants or a small quantity of C4 grasses. In either case, a more open habitat is indicated. The other species we measured, including Griphopithecus, yielded intermediate values. The δ18O (PDB) values of the carbonate in fossil enamel also differ substantially between some taxa, and probably show that mammals such as Giraffokeryx, like East African giraffes today, were drawing their water from sources enriched in 18O, such as from the top of a forest canopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-384
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of human evolution
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1995

Keywords

  • Climate
  • Diet
  • Herbivore
  • Teeth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology

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