Inferring habitat and feeding behaviour of early Miocene notoungulates from Patagonia
Article first published online: 26 JUL 2010
© 2010 The Authors, Journal compilation © 2010 The Lethaia Foundation
Volume 44, Issue 2, pages 153–165, June 2011
How to Cite
CASSINI, G. H., MENDOZA, M., VIZCAÍNO, S. F. and BARGO, M. S. (2011), Inferring habitat and feeding behaviour of early Miocene notoungulates from Patagonia. Lethaia, 44: 153–165. doi: 10.1111/j.1502-3931.2010.00231.x
- Issue published online: 2 MAY 2011
- Article first published online: 26 JUL 2010
- manuscript received on 17/02/2010; manuscript accepted on 07/05/2010.
Cassini, G.H., Mendoza, M., Vizcaíno, S.F. & Bargo, M.S. 2011: Inferring habitat and feeding behaviour of early Miocene notoungulates from Patagonia. Lethaia, Vol. 44, pp. 153–165.
Notoungulates, native fossil mammals of South America, have been usually studied from a taxonomic point of view, whereas their palaeobiology has been largely neglected. For example, morpho-functional or eco-morphological approaches have not been rigorously applied to the masticatory apparatus to propose hypothesis on dietary habits. In this study, we generate inferences about habitat and feeding preferences in five Santacrucian genera of notoungulates of the orders Typotheria and Toxodontia using novel computer techniques of knowledge discovery. The Santacrucian (Santa Cruz Formation, late-early Miocene) fauna is particularly appropriate for this kind of studies due to its taxonomic richness, diversity, amount of specimens recorded and the quality of preservation. Over 100 extant species of ungulates, distributed among 13 families of artiodactyls and perissodactyls, were used as reference samples to reveal the relationships between craniodental morphology and ecological patterns. The results suggest that all Santacrucian notoungulates present morphologies characteristic of open habitats’ extant ungulates. Although the Toxodontia exhibits the same morphological pattern of living mixed-feeders and grazers, the Typotheria shows exaggerated traits of specialized grazer ungulates. □Craniodental morphology, ecomorphology, fossil ungulates, knowledge discovery, South America.