Date of Graduation
Master of Arts in Anthropology (MA)
Peter S. Ungar
Justin M. Nolan
Second Committee Member
Kimberly G. Smith
Biological sciences; Earth sciences; Hyracoid; Microwear; Teeth
A number of works have been published on habitats and diets of living hyraxes but much remains to be learned about the paleoenvironment contexts of the much larger, more dominant but now extinct forms of the order. Here, I analyze the dental microwear of modern hyraxes to assess dietary and ecological relationships among the four extant species of Procaviidae: Heterohyrax brucei, Procavia capensis, Dendrohyrax arboreus, and Dendrohyrax dorsalis. The purpose of this study was to establish an extant baseline series for the interpretation of microwear texture patterns, and inference of diets, of extinct members of the order. This was done by obtaining molds of cheek teeth from museum specimens and gathering point cloud data with a Sensofar white-light scanning confocal microscope to compare area-scale fractal complexity (Asfc) where Asfc is defined "as change in surface roughness" with scale of observation (Ungar et al., 2008, p. 402). According to Ungar et al. (2008), high Asfc values typically mean more heavily pitted surfaces than do lower values. The results from the global model where all four species, wet and dry seasons, and an interaction between species and seasons are considered reveal no significant distinctions among these factors. However, quantifying the Asfc levels for Procavia and Heterohyrax supports the original claim made by Walker et al. (1978) that seasonality differentiates the dietary patterns for Procavia but not italic>Heterohyrax, which suggests species and season may in fact be signals for dietary variation. A larger sample number for species by season and a better control in samples is needed to determine whether or not the global model may be used for hyracoids.
Walcutt, Ann Marie, "Taxonomic and Seasonal Variation Among Extant Hyracoids Based on Dental Microwear Texture Analysis" (2014). Theses and Dissertations. 1048.