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Reconstructing the diet and paleoecology of Plio-Pleistocene Cercopithecoides williamsi from Sterkfontein, South Africa

Frank L'Engle Williams and Elise Geissler
Reconstructing the diet and paleoecology of Plio-Pleistocene Cercopithecoides williamsi from Sterkfontein, South Africa
Palaios (September 2014) 29 (9): 483-494

Abstract

The Plio-Pleistocene cave site of Sterkfontein has yielded the remains of Cercopithecoides williamsi, a colobine monkey reconstructed as a terrestrial folivore given its dental morphology, heavily worn teeth and robustly built postcranial skeleton. To address the validity of these dietary and habitat inferences, patterns of dental microwear obtained from low-magnification stereomicroscopy for C. williamsi specimens from Sterkfontein Member 4 (n = 13) are compared to a broad comparative sample of extant primates, including Cebus apella (n = 10), Colobus polykomos, (n = 6), Papio anubis (n = 13), and Papio ursinus (n = 39) as well as extinct Parapapio broomi (n = 12) from Sterkfontein Member 4 and Theropithecus oswaldi danieli (n = 6) from Swartkrans Member 1. Cercopithecoides williamsi exhibits numerous large pits and puncture pits, and few fine scratches. When diet is considered, C. williamsi is closely associated with C. polykomos and C. apella, suggesting folivorous resources and some hard-objects were consumed, possibly from seeds or grit on fallen fruit, but more likely from grit adhering to the underground storage organs of C (sub 4) plants given its mixed C (sub 3) /C (sub 4) isotopic signal. This fossil taxon groups with terrestrial primates more than arboreal ones when habitat is considered. Individuals attributed to C. williamsi largely cluster as a group and a comparison of multiple use-wear scars differentiates open or partially open habitats from forested ones, suggesting dental microwear provides a strong habitat signal.


ISSN: 0883-1351
Serial Title: Palaios
Serial Volume: 29
Serial Issue: 9
Title: Reconstructing the diet and paleoecology of Plio-Pleistocene Cercopithecoides williamsi from Sterkfontein, South Africa
Affiliation: Georgia State University, Department of Anthropology, Atlanta, GA, United States
Pages: 483-494
Published: 201409
Text Language: English
Publisher: Society for Sedimentary Geology, Tulsa, OK, United States
References: 114
Accession Number: 2015-007446
Categories: Vertebrate paleontology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 5 tables
S26°01'00" - S26°01'00", W27°43'60" - W27°43'60"
Secondary Affiliation: University of Florida, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology), Tulsa, OK, United States
Update Code: 201504
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