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Dietary behaviour and competition for vegetal resources in two Early Miocene pecoran ruminants from Central Spain

Daniel DEMIGUEL, Victoria QUIRALTE, Beatriz AZANZA, Plinio MONTOYA & Jorge MORALES

en Geodiversitas 34 (2) - Pages 425-443

Published on 29 June 2012

Dietary behaviour and competition for resources are investigated for the small-sized ruminants Andegameryx Ginsburg, 1971 and Procervulus Gaudry, 1877 representatives of two largely distinct states of diversification of pecorans. Results obtained from dental microwear and mesowear methodologies are concordant with a mixed feeder strategy for the taxa from the Early Miocene environments of the Iberian Chain (Central Spain). Further, the Spanish taxa investigated had less abrasive diets than their relatives from others similarly aged localities in Europe. This fact raises an important evolutionary uncertainty concerning the traditional characterization of first pecorans as specialized browsers. Instead, data strongly corroborate the recently proposed notion that some Pecora ruminant lineages were able to consume a mixture of browse and grass, and that were originally facultative mixed feeders. However, there is a large degree of variation of their dental wear features. Species were not dependent on a limited type of vegetation and, consequently, were able to exploit different food resources. Dental wear data seem to indicate that these ruminants did not compete for vegetation. In addition, last Andegameryx and earliest Procervulus apparently had a sufficiently different body size to partition the available vegetation in terms of height above ground level to elude competition. Body size difference coupled with an important degree of dietary opportunism may have been factors necessary for their coexistence.

Keywords :

Ruminantia, Andegameryx, Procervulus, microwear, mesowear, paleodiet, paleoecology

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