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Dietary reconstruction of the Amphipithecidae (Primates, Anthropoidea) from the Paleogene of South Asia and paleoecological implications

Abstract : The primate family, Amphipithecidae, lived during the early Cenozoic in South Asia. In this study, the diet of late middle Eocene amphipithecids from the Pondaung Formation (Central Myanmar) is characterized using three different approaches: body mass estimation, shearing quotient quantification and dental microwear analysis. Our results are compared with other Paleogene amphipithecids from Thailand and Pakistan, and to the other members of the primate community from the Pondaung Formation. Our results indicate a majority of frugivores within this primate community. Pondaungia and "Amphipithecus" included hard objects, such as seeds and nuts, in their diet. Folivory is secondary for these taxa. Myanmarpithecus probably had a mixed diet based on fruit and leaves. Contrasting results and a unique dental morphology distinguish Ganlea from other amphipithecids. These render interpretation difficult but nevertheless indicate a diet tending towards leaves and fruit. However, the anterior dentition of Ganlea suggests that this taxon engaged in seed predation, using its protruding canine as a tool to husk hard fruits and obtain the soft seeds inside. Bahinia and Paukkaungia, two other Pondaung primates, are small (<500 g) and therefore would have depended on insects as their source of protein. As such, they occupied a very different ecological niche from Pondaung amphipithecids. This primate community is then compared with the Eocene-Oligocene primate communities of the Fayum from North Africa. Similarities between the late middle Eocene Pondaung primate community and extant equatorial and tropical South American primate communities are noted
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Anusha Ramdarshan, Gildas Merceron, Paul Tafforeau, Laurent Marivaux. Dietary reconstruction of the Amphipithecidae (Primates, Anthropoidea) from the Paleogene of South Asia and paleoecological implications. Journal of Human Evolution, Elsevier, 2010, 59 (1), pp.96-108. ⟨10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.04.00⟩. ⟨insu-00687268⟩



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