Subfossil lemur discoveries from the Beanka Protected Area in western Madagascar

David A. Burney, Haingoson Andriamialison, Radosoa A. Andrianaivoarivelo, Steven Bourne, Brooke E. Crowley, Erik J. De Boer, Laurie R. Godfrey, Steven M. Goodman, Christine Griffiths, Owen Griffiths, Julian P. Hume, Walter G. Joyce, William L. Jungers, Stephanie Marciniak, Gregory J. Middleton, Kathleen M. Muldoon, Eliette Noromalala, Ventura R. Pérez, George H. Perry, Roger RandalanaHenry T. Wright

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Abstract

A new fossil site in a previously unexplored part of western Madagascar (the Beanka Protected Area) has yielded remains of many recently extinct vertebrates, including giant lemurs (Babakotia radofilai, Palaeopropithecus kelyus, Pachylemur sp., and Archaeolemur edwardsi), carnivores (Cryptoprocta spelea), the aardvark-like Plesiorycteropus sp., and giant ground cuckoos (Coua). Many of these represent considerable range extensions. Extant species that were extirpated from the region (e.g., Prolemur simus) are also present. Calibrated radiocarbon ages for 10 bones from extinct primates span the last three millennia. The largely undisturbed taphonomy of bone deposits supports the interpretation that many specimens fell in from a rock ledge above the entrance. Some primates and other mammals may have been prey items of avian predators, but human predation is also evident. Strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) suggest that fossils were local to the area. Pottery sherds and bones of extinct and extant vertebrates with cut and chop marks indicate human activity in previous centuries. Scarcity of charcoal and human artifacts suggests only occasional visitation to the site by humans. The fossil assemblage from this site is unusual in that, while it contains many sloth lemurs, it lacks ratites, hippopotami, and crocodiles typical of nearly all other Holocene subfossil sites on Madagascar.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-203
Number of pages17
JournalQuaternary Research (United States)
Volume93
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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    Burney, D. A., Andriamialison, H., Andrianaivoarivelo, R. A., Bourne, S., Crowley, B. E., De Boer, E. J., Godfrey, L. R., Goodman, S. M., Griffiths, C., Griffiths, O., Hume, J. P., Joyce, W. G., Jungers, W. L., Marciniak, S., Middleton, G. J., Muldoon, K. M., Noromalala, E., Pérez, V. R., Perry, G. H., ... Wright, H. T. (2020). Subfossil lemur discoveries from the Beanka Protected Area in western Madagascar. Quaternary Research (United States), 93(1), 187-203. https://doi.org/10.1017/qua.2019.54