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.
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