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Cenozoic Mammals of Africa$
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Lars Werdelin

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257214

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257214.001.0001

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Stable Carbon and Oxygen Isotopes in East African Mammals: Modern and Fossil

Stable Carbon and Oxygen Isotopes in East African Mammals: Modern and Fossil

(p.941) Forty-Eight Stable Carbon and Oxygen Isotopes in East African Mammals: Modern and Fossil
Cenozoic Mammals of Africa

Thure E. Cerling

John M. Harris

Meave G. Leakey

Benjamin H. Passey

Naomi E. Levin

University of California Press

Stable isotopes have become an important tool to study diets and behavior of fossil mammals, but the path to acceptance has been long and arduous. Phosphate studies apply only to oxygen isotopes and dietary information is lacking; likewise, collagen is rarely preserved in fossils older than some thousands of years. This chapter discusses isotope ratios that are preserved in the carbonate component of tooth enamel. It first reviews isotopic analysis of the diets of extant mammals from Africa and looks at the dietary history of different mammalian lineages. It then examines the correspondence between the isotopic evidence for the transition from a C3 to a C4 world and the paleontological evidence for faunal change at the end of the Miocene and beginning of the Pliocene as shown by the faunal assemblages from Lothagam, northern Kenya. This faunal turnover is one of the most marked in the Cenozoic. Lastly, the chapter discusses future directions of stable isotope paleoecology.

Keywords:   Africa, mammals, stable isotopes, diets, fossils, Kenya, paleoecology, tooth enamel, Miocene, Pliocene

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