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Feeding Ecology in Oligocene Mylodontoid Sloths (Mammalia,Xenarthra) as Revealed by Orthodentine Microwear Analysis
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Zoology.
2018 (English)In: Journal of mammalian evolution, ISSN 1064-7554, E-ISSN 1573-7055Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Recently, dental microwear analysis has been successfully employed to xenarthran teeth. Here, we present new data on use wear features on 16 molariforms of Orophodon hapaloides and Octodontotherium grande. These taxa count among the earliest sloths and are known from the Deseadan SALMA (late Oligocene). Modern phylogenetic analyses classify Octodontotherium and Orophodon within Mylodontoidea with whom they share lobate cheek teeth with an outer layer of cementum and a thick layer of orthodentine. Similar target areas of 100 μm2 were analyzed on the orthodentine surface of each tooth by stereomicroscopic microwear and by SEM microwear. Results were unlike those of extant sloths (stereomicroscopic microwear: Bradypus, Choloepus) and published data from fossil sloths (SEM microwear: Acratocnus, Megalonyx, Megatherium, Thinobadistes); thus, both approaches independently indicate a different feeding ecology for the Oligocene taxa. The unique microwear results suggest that both taxa fed on plant material with low to moderate intrinsic toughness (foliage, twigs) but also proposes intake of tougher food items (e.g., seeds). Frequent gouging of the tooth surfaces can be explained by exogenous influence on microwear, such as possible intake of abrasive grit. We suggest an unspecialized herbivorous diet for Octodontotherium and Orophodon utilizing diverse food resources of their habitat. These interpretations support the reconstruction of (1) Deseadan environments as open habitats with spreading savannas/grasslands and (2) both taxa as wide muzzled bulk feeders at ground level.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
Dental microwear; Scanning electron microscopy; Stereomicroscopy; Folivora; Paleodiet; Orthodentine
National Category
Zoology
Research subject
Diversity of life
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-2721DOI: 10.1007/s10914-017-9405-xOAI: oai:DiVA.org:nrm-2721DiVA, id: diva2:1170259
Available from: 2018-01-02 Created: 2018-01-02 Last updated: 2018-01-26

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