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Combined oxygen and sulphur isotope analysis—a new tool to unravel vertebrate (paleo)-ecology

Abstract : Reconstructing the living environment of extinct vertebrates is often challenging due to the lack of proxies. We propose a new proxy to the living environment based on the combined oxygen and sulphur stable isotope analysis of vertebrate hydroxyapatite. We tested this isotopic proxy to 64 biogenic apatite (bones) samples that represent a wide spectrum of the extant vertebrate phylogenetic diversity including crocodiles, snakes, turtles, mammals, birds, lizards, fish and amphibians. We show that the combination of these two isotopic systems allows the living environment of all these vertebrates to be unambiguously distinguished between freshwater (aquatic vs semi-aquatic), seawater (aquatic vs semi-aquatic) and terrestrial. The main goal of this study is to provide a present-day isotopic reference frame and to discuss methodological issues that will serve to interpret future oxygen and sulphur isotope results obtained either from fossil or modern skeletal material. This new isotopic approach of combined oxygen and sulphur isotope analysis will be particularly useful to document major aquatic-terrestrial transitions in the fossil record but also to better constrain the living environment of some present-day species.
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Submitted on : Saturday, March 28, 2020 - 9:17:19 AM
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Jean Goedert, Romain Amiot, Didier Berthet, François Fourel, Laurent Simon, et al.. Combined oxygen and sulphur isotope analysis—a new tool to unravel vertebrate (paleo)-ecology. The Science of Nature Naturwissenschaften, Springer Verlag, 2020, 107 (2), ⟨10.1007/s00114-019-1664-3⟩. ⟨hal-02523004⟩



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