Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Mexican Late Pleistocene proboscidean diet and habitat (#712)

Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales 1 , Victor A. Perez-Crespo 2
  1. Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico
  2. Instituto de Geologia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexica, Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

During the Late Pleistocene, México was inhabited by at least five proboscidean genera pertaining to three families, two extinct ones Gomphotheriidea (Cuvieronius and Stegomastodon) and Mammutidae (Mammut americanum), and one extant but extirpated from the Americas Continent, Elephantidae (Mammuthus columbi). Coexistence of those species within the country could be explained by their different food and habitat requirements that have been studied based on their dental morphology. Mammoths had hypsodont molars that were specialized for grass feeding, inhabiting open areas like grasslands and savannas. On the contrary, gomphotheres and North American mastodons were considered as browsing specialists, living inside forests. However, the use of δ13C and δ18O over the last 10 years has changed understanding of the diet and habitat inferences for those animals. Carbon and oxygen isotope values for some Cuvieronius, inhabiting forests and grasslandshave shown either C3, mixed C3/C4, or even C4 diets, while Stegomastodon living in savannas or grassland had a mixed C3/C4 diet. On the other hand, North American mastodons were exclusively feeding on C3 plants and lived in forested areas, while mammoths chose a wide variety of plants, including C4, C3, and mixed C3/C4 but mostly inhabited grassland or savannas. Overall, gomphotheres and mammoths ate a wide variety of plants, ranging from exclusive C3, C4 or mixed C3/C4 plants, as well as having variable habitats (close or open), although mammoths lived mostly in grasslands. On the other hand, mastodons were C3 diet specialists living in forest, as also inferred by molar morphology.