Molar microwear of subfossil lemurs: Improving the resolution of dietary inferences

K. L. Rafferty, M. F. Teaford, W. L. Jungers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


In this study we use molar microwear analyses to examine the trophic distinctions among various taxa of Malagasy subfossil lemurs. High resolution casts of the teeth of Megaladapis, Archaeolemur, Palaeopropithecus, Babakotia, and Hadropithecus were examined under a scanning electron microscope. Megaladapis was undoubtedly a browsing folivore, but there are significant differences between species of this genus. However, dietary specialists appear to be the exception; for example, Palaeopropithecus and Babakotia probably supplemented their leaf-eating with substantial amounts of seed-predation, much like modern indrids. Hadropithecus was decidedly not like the modern gelada baboon, but probably did feed on hard objects. Evidence from microwear and coprolites suggests that Archaeolemur probably had an eclectic diet that differed regionally and perhaps seasonally. Substantial trophic diversity within Madgascar's primate community was diminished by the late Quaternary extinctions of the large-bodied species (>9 kg).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-657
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2002


  • Archaeolemur
  • Babakotia
  • Diet
  • Hadropithecus
  • Hapalemur
  • Megaladapis
  • Microwear
  • Palaeopropithecus
  • Papio
  • Presbytis
  • Propithecus
  • Subfossil lemurs
  • Theropithecus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


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