Palaeodietary traits of large mammals from the middle Miocene of Gračanica (Bugojno Basin, Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Alexandros Xafis, Juha Saarinen, Katharina Bastl, Doris Nagel, Friðgeir Grímsson

Recent excavations at the Gračanica coal mine (Bugojno Basin, Bosnia-Herzegovina) have unearthed numerous skeletal parts of fossil vertebrates, including a noteworthy collection of mammalian remains. Previous palaeoecological investigations of the Dinarides Lake System were established using stratigraphical, palaeofloral, and malacological data. However, large mammal remains have so far not been used to reconstruct the terrestrial palaeoenvironment of this important fossil ecosystem. Here, the palaeodietary preferences of large mammals were investigated, using a multiproxy approach by employing dental microwear and dental mesowear analysis, in order to provide new perspectives on the terrestrial palaeoecology of the Dinarides Lake System. The dental microwear of all available adult mammalian teeth was analysed. Dental mesowear analysis was employed for ungulate and proboscidean taxa, using mesowear scores and mesowear angles, respectively. The analysis reveals the presence of browsing, “dirty browsing”, and mixed-feeding herbivorous taxa, with seasonal fruit, or even grass intake. Additionally, the analysis of the carnivores suggests the presence of hyaena- and cheetah-like hypercarnivores, as well as generalists. The palaeodietary traits of the fossil mammals suggest a closed canopy-like environment, which is supported by the fossil plant assemblage. Palaeopalynological data confirm the omnipresence of fleshy fruit-bearing plants, herbaceous taxa, as well as grasses, which justifies the seasonal fruit browsing, the common “dirty browsing”, and the occasional grazing behaviour visualized for some of the fossil mammals from Gračanica.

Department of Palaeontology, Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research
External organisation(s)
University of Helsinki, Medizinische Universität Wien
Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
105112 Historical geology, 105118 Palaeontology, 105117 Palaeobotany, 105123 Stratigraphy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Global and Planetary Change, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics, Ecology, Geology, Palaeontology
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