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First evidence of scavenging in a Glyptodont (Mammalia, Glyptodontidae) from the Pliocene of the Pampean region (Argentina): taphonomic and paleoecological remarks

Martín de los Reyes, Daniel Poiré, Leopoldo Soibelzon, Alfredo E. Zurita* and M.J. Arrouy

Plain Language Abstract

The glyptodonts are a group of large and armoured mammals that inhabited the South American Cenozoic ecosystems although some species arrived in North America during the Great American Biotic Interchange. Interestingly the evidence of predation over those conspicuous mammals is elusive in South America; there are only a few reports on several specimens with signals of human consumption, found in an archaeological context in South America. In this contribution, we present the first case of scavenging on a glyptodont determined as cf. Eosclerocalyptus lineatus, coming from the Pliocene of the Pampean region (Argentina). In addition, we analyze the potential scavengers and the paleoenvironmental context in which this occurred. The evidence suggests that: a) the carcass was covered by a shallow water body, probably an abandoned channel; b) the carcass was completely covered during a brief lapse of time, probably less than a year; c) the morphology of the bite marks clearly coincides with the dentition of the large procyonid Chapalmalania.

Resumen en Español

Primeras evidencias de carroñeo en un gliptodonte (Mammalia, Glyptodontidae) del Plioceno de la Región Pampeana (Argentina): observaciones tafonómicas y paeloecológicas

Los cingulados gliptodóntidos (Xenarthra) son uno de los clados más llamativos de herbívoros cenozoicos de Sudamérica, y que también llegaron a Norteamérica durante el Gran Intercambio Biótico Americano. Las evidencias de depredación sobre estos grandes mamíferos acorazados son muy escasas, limitándose a un cráneo de Glyptotherium del Plioceno de Norteamérica y algunos ejemplares del Pleistoceno terminal-Holoceno basal en Sudamérica con señales de consumo por parte de humanos. En este artículo presentamos el primer caso de carroñeo sobre un gliptodonte (cf. Eosclerocalyptus lineatus, Hoplophorini) del Plioceno de la Región Pampeana (Argentina). Analizamos, además, los posibles carroñeros y el contexto paleoambiental en el que tuvo lugar. Las pruebas encontradas sugieren que: a) el caparazón estuvo cubierto por una lámina de agua poco profunda, probablemente un canal abandonado; b) el caparazón estuvo totalmente cubierto durante un breve intervalo de tiempo, probablemente menos de un año; c) la morfología de las marcas de mordeduras claramente coincide con la dentición del prociónido Chapalmalania (Mammalia, Procyonidae), lo que corrobora las suposiciones previas sobre las tendencias paleoautoecológicas de este taxón.

Palabras clave: Sudamérica; Glyptodontidae; Procyonidae; Chapalmalania; carroñeo: paleoambiente

Traducción: Miguel Company

Résumé en Français

Première preuve de charognage sur un glyptodonte (mammifères, Glyptodontidae) du Pliocène de la région de la Pampa (Argentine): remarques taphonomiques et paléoécologiques

Les Cingulata Glyptodontidae (Xenarthra) sont l'un des clades d'herbivores Cénozoïque qui ressortent le plus en Amérique du Sud ayant atteint l'Amérique du Nord pendant la Grande Echange Biotique Américaine. La preuve de la prédation sur ces grands mammifères blindés est très rare et limitée à un crâne Pliocène (Glyptotherium) en Amérique du Nord et à quelques spécimens du Pléistocène-Holocène de l'Amérique du Sud, avec des traces de consommation humaine. Dans cette article, nous présentons le premier cas de charognage sur un glyptodonte appartenant à cf. Eosclerocalyptus lineatus (Hoplophorini) du Pliocène de la région de la Pampa (Argentine). En outre, nous analysons les charognards potentiels ainsi que le contexte paléo-environnementales dans lesquelles cela s'est déroulé. Les données indiquent que: a) la carcasse a été couverte par un plan d'eau peu profond, sans doute un canal abandonné; b) la carcasse a été complètement recouverte pendant un bref laps de temps, probablement moins d'un an; c) la morphologie des traces de morsures coïncide clairement avec la dentition du procyonid Chapalmalania (mammifères, Procyonidae), corroborant ainsi certaines présomptions sur les tendances paléo-autoécologiques de ce taxon.

Mots clés: Amérique du Sud; Glyptodontidae; Procyonidae; Chapalmalania; charognard; paléoenvironnement

Translator: Kenny Travouillon

Deutsche Zusammenfassung

Erster Nachweis von Aasfressern bei einem Glyptodonten (Mammalia, Glyptodontidae) aus dem Pliozän der Pampa (Argentinien): taphonomische und paläoökologische Bemerkungen

Die cingulaten Glyptodontidae (Xenarthra) sind eine der auffälligsten herbivoren Klade aus dem Känoziokum in Südamerika, die Nordamerika während des Großen Amerikanischen Biotischen Austausches erreichten. Spärliche Nachweise auf Prädatoren bei diesen großen gepanzerten Säugetieren beschränken sich auf einen pliozänen Schädel (Glyptotherium) in Nordamerika und einige Stücke aus dem späten Pleistozän bis frühes Holozän von Südamerika mit Anzeichen menschlichen Konsums. In diesem Zusammenhang präsentieren wir den ersten Fall von Aasfressern bei einem Glyptodonten das zu cf. Eosclerocalyptus lineatus (Hoplophorini) aus dem Pliozän der Pampa von Argentinien gehört. Zusätzlich analysieren wir die möglichen Verursacher und den Zusammenhang in Bezug auf die Paläoumwelt in der der Fall auftrat. Die Nachweise legen nahe, dass a) der Kadaver mit seichtem Wasser bedeckt war, möglicherweise ein aufgegebener Flusskanal; b) die Morphologie der Bissmarken stimmt eindeutig mit der Bezahnung des Procyoniden Chapalmalania (Mammalia, Procyonidae) überein und bestätigt somit einige Annahmen über die paläoökologischen Trends dieses Taxons.

Schlüsselwörter: Südamerika; Glyptodontidae; Procyonidae; Chapalmalania; Aasfresser; Paläoumwelt

Translator: Eva Gebauer

Arabic

331 arab

Translator: Ashraf M.T. Elewa

 

 

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reyesFacultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo de La Plata
Paseo del Bosque s/n (1900)
La Plata, Buenos Aires
Argentina

Martín de los Reyes is an advanced student in Biology at the Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo (Universidad Nacional de La Plata). Currently, he manages the paleontological rescue of fossil remains at “Cementos Avellaneda S.A”. He also worked at the Museo de La Plata since 2010. In the last 5 years, he participated in 29 scientific publications. He has a large field experience in the Neogene deposits of the Buenos Aires province, Argentina.

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poireCIG de Investigaciones Geológicas
UNLP-CONICET
Calle 1 Nº 644
1900 La Plata
Argentina

Daniel Gustavo Poiré was born in La Plata, Argentina, in 1953. He degree in Geology in 1979 and he has got the PhD Diploma in Natural Sciences (Geology) in 1987, both at the National University of La Plata. Then, he performed a postdoctoral experience at The University of Liverpool, UK, supervised by T. Peter Crimes. He was the first Chief Editor of the Latin American Journal of Sedimentology and Basin Analysis (LAJSBA) for the Argentine Association of Sedimentology. Now he is Full Professor at the National University of La Plata (UNLP) and Independent Researcher at the National Research Council of Argentina (CONICET) at the Centro de Investigaciones Geológicas (UNLP-CONICET). His main interests are modern and ancient organic sedimentary structures (trace fossils, stromatolites and microbial mats) and general sedimentology. He has actively collaborated with geologists and microbiologists in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, England, Wales, Denmark, South Africa and USA, and has been involved in numerous published papers and several books. He has lectured several postgraduate courses about sedeimentological significance of trace fossils and stromatolites in Argentina universities and in the University of Barcelona (Spain).

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soibelzonDivisión Paleontología de Vertebrados
Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo (UNLP)
Paseo del Bosque s/n
1900, La Plata
Buenos Aires
Argentina

Leopoldo Hector Soibelzon was born in La Plata, Argentina, in 1969. He obtained his degree in Biology (Zoology) in 1997 and he has got the PhD Diploma in Natural Sciences (Paleontology) in 2002, both at the National University of La Plata. Then, he performed a postdoctoral experience at the same university. Now he is Assistant Professor of Mastozoology at the National University of La Plata (UNLP) and Adjunct Researcher at the National Research Council of Argentina (CONICET) at Museo de La Plata (UNLP). Also, he is a Research Associate at Center for Excellence in Paleontology of East Tennessee State University (USA) and Mastozoology Lab. at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brasil). His main interests are modern and quaternary mammals, especially carnivores. He has actively collaborated with Quaternary geologists and paleontologist in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Germany and USA, and has been involved in numerous research projects, published papers and several books.

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zuritaCentro de Ecología Aplicada del Litoral (CECOAL-CONICET) y Universidad Nacional delNordeste
Ruta 5, km. 2,5, 3400
CC 128 Corrientes
Argentina

Alfredo Zurita was born in Presidencia Roque Saénz Peña, Chaco, Argentina in 1974. He degree in Biology in 2000 and he gas got the PhD diploma in 2007 at the Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de La Plata. Currently, he is Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Universidad Nacional del Nordeste and Researcher at the National Research Council of Argentina (CONICET). His main field of research involves the anatomical and systematic study of the Xenarthra Glyptodontidae, actively collaborated with numerous paleontologists of Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela and United States. He has been involved in numerous research projects and published papers, especially in those concerning Xenarthra Glyptodontidae.

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arrouyCIG de Investigaciones Geológicas
UNLP-CONICET
Calle 1 Nº 644
1900 La Plata
Argentina

 María Julia Arrouy was born in Azul, Argentina, in 1981. She has got Degree in Geology in 2008 from the National University of La Plata (UNLP). She is a PH.D. student in the UNLP and receiving fellowship of the National Research Council of Argentina (CONICET) and Cementos Avellaneda S.A., at the Centro de Investigaciones Geológicas (UNLP-CONICET). She is also Teaching Assistant of the Sedimentology course at the UNLP.

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FIGURE 1. Location map showing the locality where Eosclerocalyptus cf. E. lineatus (Xen-30) was exhumed.

figure 1

FIGURE 2. Lithostratigraphical profile at the locality where Eosclerocalyptus cf. E. lineatus (Xen-30) was exhumed.

figure 2

FIGURE 3. 1 to 4: Recreations of the 3D disposition in situ (from four different angles) of Eosclerocalyptus cf. E. lineatus (Xen-30). Abbreviations: a, posterior fused vertebrae; b, right hemimandible; c, anterior fused vertebrae; d, left zeugopod and autopod; e, atlas and axis; f, scapula; g, synsacrum; h, dorsal carapace.

figure 3

FIGURE 4. Sequence of the four episodes of the burial (numbered from 1 to 4) of Eosclerocalyptus cf. E. lineatus (Xen-30). Abbreviations: a, posterior fused vertebrae; b, right hemimandible; c, anterior fused vertebrae; d, left zeugopod and autopod; e, atlas and axis; f, scapula; g, synsacrum; h, dorsal carapace.

figure 4

FIGURE 5. Posterior fused vertebrae of Eosclerocalyptus cf. E. lineatus (Xen-30-12) with a detail of the pits and furrows observed on the neural apophysis.

figure 5

FIGURE 6. 1. Pits and furrows (i to vi) on the neural apophysis of Eosclerocalyptus cf. E. lineatus (Xen-30-12). 2. Palatal view of the rostrum of Capalmalania altifrontis (MMP-1121-M) showing incisors and canines. Abbreviations: I1 first upper incisor, I2 second upper incisor, I3 third upper incisor, C upper canine.

figure 6

FIGURE 7. Two different views of acombined image of the rostrum of Chapalmalania altifrontis (54-V-17-1) "biting" the posterior vertebrae of Eosclerocalyptus cf. E. lineatus (Xen-30-12) showing the precise match between the dentition of Ch. altifrontis and the marks on the vertebrae. Scale bar equals 10 mm.

figure 7

FIGURE 8. Reconstruction of the scene of consumption (By Luz Irrazábal).

 figure 8

 

TABLE 1. Measurements of the marks (mm) observed in Xen 30-12.

 

Series of marks

Maximum length

Maximum width

Area mm2

i

8.67

4.38

33.93

ii

11.07

4.32

45.56

iii

7.98

1.95

10.92

iv

6.97

4.63

30.98

v

8.83

1.93

13.02

vi

7.82

2.80

17.12

 TABLE 2. Comparative measurements (mm) between the dentition ofChapalmalania altifrontis and the marks observed in Eosclerocalyptus cf. E. lineatus. A. Pair of teeth measured; B. Length between adjacent teeth in MLP 54-V-17-1; C. Length between teeth in MMP-1121-M; D. Length between described marks (i to vi, see Figure 6) on Xen 30-12. Measurements B and C were taken between the crown apices of selected teeth, measurements D were taken between the centers of adjacent marks.

 

A

B

C

D

I3-I2 r

10.52

11.31

(i-ii) 13.87

I2-I1 r

9.21

8.79

(ii-iii) 7.50

I1 r-1l

7.18

5.93

(iii-iv) 7.60

I1-I2 l

7.11

8.17

(iv-v) 5.55

I2-I3 l

9.34

12.17

(v-vi) 12.74

Total length

(I3r-I3l) 43.37

(I3r-I3l) 46.39

(i-vi) 47.28