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Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 277, 1697 (2010) 3105-3112
Ruminant diets and the Miocene extinction of European great apes
Gildas Merceron ( ) 1, Thomas M. Kaiser 2, Dimitris S. Kostopoulos 3, Ellen Schulz 2

Successful evolutionary radiations of European hominoids and pliopithecoids came to an end during the Late Miocene. Using ruminant diets as environmental proxies, it becomes possible to detect variations in vegetation over time with the potential to explain fluctuations in primate diversity along a NW-SE European transect. Analysis shows that ruminants had diverse diets when primate diversity reached its peak, with more grazers in eastern Europe and more browsers farther west. After the drop in primate diversity, grazers accounted for a greater part of western and central European communities. Eastwards, the converse trend was evident with more browsing ruminants. These opposite trends indicate habitat loss and an increase in environmental uniformity that may have severely favoured the decline of primate diversity.
1 :  Paléoenvironnement et paléobiosphère (PP)
CNRS : UMR5125 – INSU – Université Claude Bernard - Lyon I
2 :  Biozentrum Grindel und Zoologisches Museum
Universität Hamburg
3 :  School of Geology, Thessaloniki
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Sciences du Vivant/Biodiversité/Evolution
biodiversity – hominoids – Neogene – environmental dynamics – ungulates