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Journal Article

Complementary approaches to tooth wear analysis in Tritylodontidae (Synapsida, Mammaliamorpha) reveal a generalist diet


Schulz-Kornas,  Ellen       
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Kalthoff, D. C., Schulz-Kornas, E., Corfe, I., Martin, T., McLoughlin, S., & Schultz, J. A. (2019). Complementary approaches to tooth wear analysis in Tritylodontidae (Synapsida, Mammaliamorpha) reveal a generalist diet. PLoS One, 14(7): e0220188. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0220188.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-5959-5
Stereoscopic microwear and 3D surface texture analyses on the cheek teeth of ten Upper Triassic to Lower Cretaceous tritylodontid (Mammaliamorpha) taxa of small/medium to large body size suggest that all were generalist feeders and none was a dietary specialist adapted to herbivory. There was no correspondence between body size and food choice. Stereomicroscopic microwear analysis revealed predominantly fine wear features with numerous small pits and less abundant fine scratches as principal components. Almost all analyzed facets bear some coarser microwear features, such as coarse scratches, large pits, puncture pits and gouges pointing to episodic feeding on harder food items or exogenous effects (contamination of food with soil grit and/or dust), or both. 3D surface texture analysis indicates predominantly fine features with large void volume, low peak densities, and various stages of roundness of the peaks. We interpret these features to indicate consumption of food items with low to moderate intrinsic abrasiveness and can exclude regular rooting, digging or caching behavior. Possible food items include plant vegetative parts, plant reproductive structures (seeds and seed-bearing organs), and invertebrates (i.e., insects). Although the tritylodontid tooth morphology and auto-occlusion suggest plants as the primary food resource, our results imply a wider dietary range including animal matter.