Dental Mesowear and the Palaeodiets of Bovids From Makapansgat Limeworks Cave, South Africa

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The palaeodiet of seven bovids from Makapansgat Limeworks Cave are analysed using dental mesowear. Results suggest that Tragelaphus pricei had a highly attritional diet and was thus a browser. Tragelaphus sp. aff. T. angasii and Aepyceros sp. were also browsers, having diets similar in texture to the extant mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus). Gazella vanhoepeni had an intermediate attrition-abrasion wear signal and groups most closely with extant mixed feeders. Redunca darti and Makapania broomi are at the abrasion end of the wear continuum and cluster with living grazers, such as the hippotragines and reduncines. Parmularius braini had a highly abrasive diet similar to extreme grazers like the American bison (Bison bison) and topi (Damaliscus lunatus). The bovid mesowear data were compared to previous palaeodietary studies using taxonomic uniformitarianism, ecomorphology (hypsodonty), and stable carbon isotopes on the same Makapansgat taxa. This comparison showed that the mesowear results are most closely in-line with the isotope data, both of which are non-genetic signals that reflect diet during an extended portion of an animal's life.