Diet of Theropithecus from 4 to 1 Ma in Kenya

Thure E. Cerling, Kendra L. Chritz, Nina G. Jablonski, Meave G. Leakey, Fredrick Kyalo Manthi

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Abstract

Theropithecus was a common large-bodied primate that cooccurred with hominins in many Plio-Pleistocene deposits in East and South Africa. Stable isotope analyses of tooth enamel from T. brumpti (4.0-2.5 Ma) and T. oswaldi (2.0-1.0 Ma) in Kenya show that the earliest Theropithecus at 4 Ma had a diet dominated by C4 resources. Progressively, this genus increased the proportion of C4-derived resources in its diet and by 1.0 Ma, had a diet that was nearly 100% C4-derived. It is likely that this diet was comprised of grasses or sedges; stable isotopes cannot, by themselves, give an indication of the relative importance of leaves, seeds, or underground storage organs to the diet of this primate. Theropithecus throughout the 4- to 1-Ma time range has a diet that is more C4-based than contemporaneous hominins of the genera Australopithecus, Kenyanthropus, and Homo; however, Theropithecus and Paranthropus have similar proportions of C4-based resources in their respective diets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10507-10512
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume110
Issue number26
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 25 2013

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