Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Program

Biology

Date of Award

5-2011

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Michael S. Zavada

Committee Members

Charles T. Faulkner, Christopher Liu, J. Leonard Robertson

Abstract

The analysis of samples recovered from the abdominal area of an articulated tapir from the Late Miocene (4.5-7 million bp) Gray Fossil Site, revealed a rich palyno-fauna comprised of about 94% egg/oocyst-like structures and 6% pollen and other palynomorphs. In addition, a tight grouping of six hickory nuts (Carya) was recovered from the same area suggesting that the samples represent the abdominal contents. The analysis of a sample from immediately outside the tapir produced a sample with 98% pollen and less than 0.5% egg-like structures. The size, shape, and general morphology of egg-like structures were analyzed with light and scanning electron microscopy and were compared to a variety of intestinal eggs found in extant ungulates, and in particular the Perissodactyla. We also compared the fossil structures to the numbers and kind of intestinal parasites recovered from fecal samples from the Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii) in Costa Rica and from samples collected from the Lowland tapir (T. terrestris) from Ecuador to assess their similarity to our fossil sample. Based on these data we discuss what role parasites may have played in the biology of T. polkensis during the late Miocene-early Pliocene.

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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