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Calcium isotopes in enamel of modern and Plio-Pleistocene East African mammals

Abstract : Calcium isotope analyses show a depletion of heavy calcium isotopes in vertebrates, compared to food sources along each trophic step. Recent studies show considerable variability of the calcium isotopic composition of bone and teeth in modern mammals, leading to inconclusive interpretations regarding the utility of Ca isotopes for trophic inference in mammal-dominated terrestrial ecosystems. Here, we analyzed modern enamel samples from the Tsavo National Park (Kenya), and fossil enamel samples dated from ca. 4 Ma to 1.6 Ma from the Turkana Basin (Kenya). We found a constancy of taxa ordering between the modern and fossil datasets, suggesting that the diagenesis of calcium isotopes is minimal in fossils. In modern herbivore samples using similar digestive physiologies, browsers are enriched in Ca-44 compared to grazers. Both grazer and browser herbivore tooth enamel is enriched in Ca-44 relative to carnivores by about +0.30 parts per thousand. Used together, carbon and calcium isotope compositions may help refine the structure of the C-3 and C-4 trophic chains in the fossil record. Due to their high preservation potential, combining both carbon and calcium isotope systems represent a reliable approach to the reconstruction of the structure of past ecosystems. (C) 2018 Eisevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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J. E. Martin, T. Tacail, T. E. Cerling, Vincent Balter. Calcium isotopes in enamel of modern and Plio-Pleistocene East African mammals. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier, 2018, 503, pp.227--235. ⟨10.1016/j.epsl.2018.09.026⟩. ⟨hal-02326501⟩



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