Bovid, cervid, and equid ecomorphology
This research uses some of the most common fauna found at hominin and hominid sites to reconstruct habitats and contribute to our understanding of habitat and resource (including food) availability at these sites. Recent work includes illuminating the influence of phylogenetic signal on ecomorphological analyses.
Collaborators: W. Andrew Barr
Environmental dynamics of Western Eurasian hominids during the Late Miocene
The research objective of this project is to use the habitat and dietary preferences of common mesoherbivores to reconstruct any paleoenvironmental changes associated with the disappearance of hominids in West Eurasia. Considering the potential environmental influences on hominid evolution (including controls on speciation, extinction, migration, and adaptation) this research is important for understanding early hominid evolution.
Thus far, postcranial ecomorphology and dental mesowear analysis of late Miocene hipparionines from hominid-bearing sites in Spain and Greece identify significant differences in habitat preferences and feeding habits for these equids. All these elements attest that habitats were more open in eastern than in western Europe. Such results for Spain are expected taking into account the arboreal mode of locomotion of Hispanopithecus. These results on Greek hipparionines confirm recent stable isotope analyses on bovids and equids that attest that Ouranopithecus has evolved in more open habitats than any other European hominids.
Paleontology and paleoecology of the Late Miocene in Western Turkey
In close collaboration with colleagues at Ege University, we have conducted paleontological field work in Western Turkey focused on the Late Miocene. This includes recovery of a representative fauna from the site of Serefköy-2. Together with the historically important site of Samos in Greece, Serefköy-2 defines what we consider a bioprovince (an ecologically and taxonomically distinct association of fauna). We consider this bioprovince significant because both fossil apes and fossil monkeys are absent from it. The close similarity between Samos and Serefköy-2 combined with the fact that both sites are rich in fossils provides strong evidence for the interpretation that this bioprovince was hostile to apes and monkeys. The identity and nature of resources unavailable in this bioprovince will help illuminate the causes of the disappearance of apes from Eurasia at the end of the Miocene.
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