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Dietary variation and overlap in Central and Northwest European Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis and S. hemitoechus (Rhinocerotidae, Mammalia) influenced by habitat diversity

Van Asperen, EN and Kahlke, R-D (2014) Dietary variation and overlap in Central and Northwest European Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis and S. hemitoechus (Rhinocerotidae, Mammalia) influenced by habitat diversity. Quaternary Science Reviews, 107 (1). pp. 47-61. ISSN 0277-3791

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To trace the dietary evolution of the two abundant Middle to Late Pleistocene rhinoceros species Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis and Stephanorhinus hemitoechus in Europe over several climatic cycles, we examined comprehensive material of stratigraphically well-defined alaeopopulations from different regions and interglacials. Using morphometrics and mesowear analysis, these reconstructions of Stephanorhinus diets indicate that habitat diversity and interspecific competition with closely related rhinoceros species induced variation in feeding behaviour. Although anatomical features of both species suggest significantly higher dietary specializations compared to the Early to early Middle Pleistocene Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis, their mesowear signals are characteristic of a mixed feeder diet, similar to that of extant mammal species in relatively open habitats. Both species retained a degree of dietary flexibility, enabling them to survive in a range of environments. Although each of these rhinoceroses preferred different habitats, species identity alone is not sufficient to establish the real dietary traits of a Stephanorhinus palaeopopulation. As a consequence, their occurrence in a faunal assemblage alone cannot be taken to indicate a specific habitat.

S. kirchbergensis and S. hemitoechus were embedded in a dynamic process of temporo-spatial replacements and interspecific differentiation of rhinoceroses in the western Palaearctic. However, dietary specialization in these Middle to Late Pleistocene European rhinoceroses was not the result of a directed time-transgressive evolution. Rather, within the range of each species' ecological tolerance, it was controlled by environmental parameters, with habitat variability as the main factor.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Quaternary Science Reviews. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Quaternary Science Reviews, [107, 1, (2015)] DOI:10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.10.001
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Natural Sciences & Psychology (closed 31 Aug 19)
Publisher: Elsevier
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2014 10:43
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2022 12:15
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.10.001
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/213
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