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Article

Middle Pleistocene Variations in the Diet of Equus in the South of France and Its Morphometric Adaptations to Local Environments

1
Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social (IPHES-CERCA), Zona Educacional 4, Campus Sescelades URV (Edifici W3), 43007 Tarragona, Spain
2
UMR 7269 LAMPEA, CNRS, Aix Marseille Université, Ministry Culture, 13190 Aix-en-Provence, France
Academic Editors: Juan Rofes, Janine Ochoa and Emmanuelle Stoetzel
Received: 26 May 2021 / Revised: 12 July 2021 / Accepted: 14 July 2021 / Published: 26 July 2021
Equus is a very sensitive genus which has expanded over a large area and lived in Europe despite the climatic instability of the Pleistocene. Its persistence and abundance are helpful in understanding and describing environmental and climatic regional parameters. In this study, we present the result of dental mesowear and microwear analysis and post-cranial skeleton biometry on Equus populations located in two regions in the South of France from ten sites, corresponding to twelve assemblages dated from MIS 12 to MIS 5. The areas refer to two major climatic zones: the oceanic or subcontinental climate for the South West of France, and the Mediterranean for the South East. The first objective of this study is to integrate and compare biometric data, dental wear, and other already-published environmental proxies. The goal is to discuss the validity of horse body shape adaptations on a small geographical scale. The second objective is to describe the impact of environmental features on the horse population through time in the two regions. We observe that the Equus diet was quite diverse, according to microwear analysis which shows adaptations according to seasonal variations. However, they remained mostly grazers over a long period of time. Estimated body mass of Equus in the localities studied here varies from a mean of 468 up to a mean of 570 kg, but these variations failed to be correlated with the diet, the climatic period, or the geographical position of the horse population, probably because of the sample size or the restricted time-span or geographical scale. However, the conformation of the metapodials and the width of the third phalanges may have been linked with environmental and behavioural parameters. The width of the third phalange may be correlated with the recurrence of the snow cover, while the robustness of the metapodial co-occurs with a humid climate. Also, diet may influence the conformation of the bones, since the tall and slender horses seem to be preferentially grazers all year long and seasonally browser horses are tall and robust. Seasonally mixed-feeder horses, all coming from the Mediterranean area, were found to be smaller, perhaps in relation to a less productive environment. The correspondence of the dietary and morphometrical data could suggest high pressure on the horse population, which caused rapid body adaptation. Thus, the combination of these different proxies allows us to suggest more accurate large mammal paleoenvironmental reconstructions. View Full-Text
Keywords: Equus; Pleistocene; paleontology; South of France; mesowear analysis; microwear analysis; body mass; morphometry; ecology; ecomorphology Equus; Pleistocene; paleontology; South of France; mesowear analysis; microwear analysis; body mass; morphometry; ecology; ecomorphology
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MDPI and ACS Style

Uzunidis, A. Middle Pleistocene Variations in the Diet of Equus in the South of France and Its Morphometric Adaptations to Local Environments. Quaternary 2021, 4, 23. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4030023

AMA Style

Uzunidis A. Middle Pleistocene Variations in the Diet of Equus in the South of France and Its Morphometric Adaptations to Local Environments. Quaternary. 2021; 4(3):23. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4030023

Chicago/Turabian Style

Uzunidis, Antigone. 2021. "Middle Pleistocene Variations in the Diet of Equus in the South of France and Its Morphometric Adaptations to Local Environments" Quaternary 4, no. 3: 23. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4030023

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