A longstanding question in the natural sciences focuses on the paleoecological role of carnivorans in ancient ecosystems. Despite the relative lack of fossilized carnivores, numerous fossil assemblages display evidence of their predation and behavior (e.g., tooth marks, broken bones, carcass deposits). Identifying the carnivores responsible for accumulating these assemblages is a challenging, but essential first step to understanding ancient carnivore-prey interactions. First, we investigate the relative number of fossils attributed to the families Felidae and Bovidae at East Turkana in northern Kenya to determine the proportional representation of these families in a well-documented and researched ancient mammal assemblage (n = 6,688). Second, although previous studies have focused on carnivorans in the wild, we used captive lions (Panthera leo) and wolves (Canis lupis) at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve in Dahlonega, Ga to investigate feeding dynamics. The captive carnivorans were allowed to feed on cow (Bos taurus) tibia for a period of 24 hours before the bones were analyzed for distinct patterns of bone consumption between taxa. We specifically focused on morphological characteristics analogous to those present in fossil assemblages (e.g., percent consumed, portion consumed, tooth mark length and spatial distribution). We find that although some overlap exists between taxa in these measures, our results indicate that further studies like this one can help to tease apart similarities and differences in the manner by which felids and canids process animal carcasses as well as their ecological role in ancient environments.
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- Event location
- Event date
23 March 2018
- Date submitted
19 July 2022
- Additional information
David Patterson, Jessica Patterson