Research Article

Taphonomic, Avian, and Small-Vertebrate Indicators of Ardipithecus ramidus Habitat

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Science  02 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5949, pp. 66-66e4
DOI: 10.1126/science.1175823

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Thousands of vertebrate specimens were systematically collected from the stratigraphic interval containing Ardipithecus ramidus. The carcasses of larger mammals were heavily ravaged by carnivores. Nearly 10,000 small-mammal remains appear to be derived primarily from decomposed owl pellets. The rich avifauna includes at least 29 species, mostly nonaquatic forms. Modern analogs of the most abundant birds and of a variety of rodents are associated with mesic woodland environments distant from large water bodies. These findings support inferences from associated geological, isotopic, invertebrate, and large-vertebrate assemblages. The combined results suggest that Ar. ramidus occupied a wooded Pliocene habitat.

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