Evidence of predation /scavenging on Moschidae (Mammalia, Ruminantia) from the Late Miocene of Spain



Domingo, M.S., Sánchez, I.M., Alberdi, M.T., Azanza, B. & Morales, J. 2011: Evidence of predation/scavenging on Moschidae (Mammalia, Ruminantia) from the Late Miocene of Spain. Lethaia, Vol. 45, pp. 386–400.

Fossil remains belonging to three musk deer species (Moschidae) from the Late Miocene pseudo-karstic fossil site of Batallones-1 (Madrid, Spain) bear evidence of corrosion produced by digestive acids. Although moschid bones co-occur with remains of several other vertebrate taxa, modifications due to digestion are restricted to the fossils of these ruminants. In this study, we focus on the particular taphonomic history undergone by the moschid assemblage. A description of the bone-surface modifications together with an analysis of the skeletal part representation and bone breakage are provided. The absence in the fossil site of many moschid skeletal elements and fragments of long bones indicates that these ruminants were preyed on or consumed out of the cavity and eventually became part of the bone assemblage when their predator/scavenger became trapped. The features exhibited by the moschid fossiliferous assemblage allow the evaluation of the trophic interactions in this Late Miocene community. The ailurid Simocyon batalleri and the amphicyonid Magericyon anceps are potentially responsible for the moschid assemblage considering the taphonomical features exhibited by the musk deer remains (type and degree of digestive damage and bone breakage, size of the recovered remains) and the dietary adaptations and preferences of these carnivorans. Together, digestive corrosion traces and moschid bone assemblage characteristics provide strong evidence for specific predator-prey interactions in a Miocene ecosystem. Batallones-1, digestion, Miocene, Moschidae, taphonomy.