Dental microwear texture analysis of two families of subfossil lemurs from Madagascar

J. R. Scott, L. R. Godfrey, W. L. Jungers, R. S. Scott, E. L. Simons, M. F. Teaford, P. S. Ungar, A. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


This study employs dental microwear texture analysis to reconstruct the diets of two families of subfossil lemurs from Madagascar, the archaeolemurids and megaladapids. This technique is based on three-dimensional surface measurements utilizing a white-light confocal profiler and scale-sensitive fractal analysis. Data were recorded for six texture variables previously used successfully to distinguish between living primates with known dietary differences. Statistical analyses revealed that the archaeolemurids and megaladapids have overlapping microwear texture signatures, suggesting that the two families occasionally depended on resources with similar mechanical properties. Even so, moderate variation in most attributes is evident, and results suggest potential differences in the foods consumed by the two families. The microwear pattern for the megaladapids indicates a preference for tougher foods, such as many leaves, while that of the archaeolemurids is consistent with the consumption of harder foods. The results also indicate some intraspecific differences among taxa within each family. This evidence suggests that the archaeolemurids and megaladapids, like many living primates, likely consumed a variety of food types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-416
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Archaeolemur
  • Diet
  • Hadropithecus
  • Megaladapis
  • Teeth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


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