Cranial shape in fruit, nectar, and exudate feeders: implications for interpreting the fossil record.

Title

Cranial shape in fruit, nectar, and exudate feeders: implications for interpreting the fossil record.

Creator

Dumont E R

Publisher

American journal of physical anthropology

Date

1997
1997-02

Description

At least 29 species of fossil primates have been referred to fruit, nectar, and/or exudate feeding dietary niches. Many studies have detailed the morphological correlates of fruit feeding in comparison to insectivory and folivory. In contrast, few studies have sought to differentiate the morphological correlates of fruit feeding from those of nectar and exudate feeding. This study investigates the differences between fruit, nectar, and exudate feeders using 22 cranial and dentary shape variables representing 28 species of living marsupials, bats, and primates. Discriminant function analysis is used to investigate the differences between these dietary categories using both the complete data set and a reduced data set composed of variables that might reasonably be available from fragmentary fossil material. The success rates of post-hoc classifications are 94 and 88%, respectively. These results demonstrate that it is possible to discriminate among fruit, nectar, and exudate feeders among fossil taxa with a reasonable degree of certainty using the data and techniques outlined here. Nectar feeders exhibit a unique combination of features that are associated with reduced masticatory strength and their role as pollination agents. Exudate feeder skulls and dentaries exhibit a combination of features that reflect the high stresses encountered by the anterior dentition through bark gouging behavior. Fruit feeders are morphologically diverse, exhibiting cranial and mandibular shape values that overlap with both nectar and exudate feeders. It is suggested that this diversity reflects the variety of physical properties represented among fruits, and the tendency for individual frugivore species to specialize on particular fruits.

Subject

*Dentition; *Diet; *Fruit; Animals; Biological Evolution; Chiroptera; Discriminant Analysis; Fossils; Primates; Skull/*anatomy & histology; Species Specificity

Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Citation

Dumont E R, “Cranial shape in fruit, nectar, and exudate feeders: implications for interpreting the fossil record.,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed June 24, 2021, https://neomed.omeka.net/items/show/2909.

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