Abstract

This paper explores the taphonomic effect that differences in body size and habitat breadth have on the end-Rancholabrean fossil record of carnivoran species. The preservation and recovery potential of carnivoran fossils in cave and noncave deposits are also compared. Identifying the nature and assessing the effect of taphonomic biases are among the preliminary steps in deciding the kind of evolutionary and paleoecological questions that can be addressed with the available fossil information. Few studies have examined taphonomic biases that affect the fossil record of mammals, and most of these have focused on herbivores.

Results suggest that differences in habitat breadth of extant carnivorans are not associated with differences in frequencies of their fossil remains. There is a significant, positive relationship between body size and frequency of identified fossil specimens in noncave deposits. Outside of caves, the frequency of identified fossil specimens of extant, small carnivorans is significantly less than that of large ones. Results indicate also that the species richness of extant, small carnivorans is underrepresented relative to that of larger carnivorans, especially in the end-Rancholabrean fossil record derived from noncave localities. No significant differences in the frequency of fossil remains of species that differed in body size were found within caves.

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