Mar 26, 2020

Potential evolutionary body size reduction in a Malagasy primate (Propithecus verreauxi) in response to human size-selective hunting pressure

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
A. P. SullivanGeorge H. Perry


The Holocene arrival of humans on Madagascar precipitated major changes to the islands biodiversity. The now-extinct, endemic "subfossil" megafauna of Madagascar were likely hunted by the islands early human inhabitants. Perhaps in part due to preferential hunting of larger prey, no surviving species on Madagascar is larger than 10 kg. Outside of Madagascar, size-selective hunting pressure has resulted in the phyletic dwarfism of many still-living species across a diversity of phyla. On Madagascar, some subfossil bones of extant lemurs are considerably larger than those of the modern members of their species, but relatively large distances between the subfossil localities and modern samples that have been compared to date makes it impossible to reject the possibility that these size differences more simply reflect pre-existing ecogeographic variation. Here, we used high-resolution 3D scan data to conduct comparative morphological analyses of subfossil and modern skeletal remains of one of the larger extant lemurs, Verreauxs sifakas (Propithecus verreauxi) from subfossil and modern sites [~]10 km adjacent: Taolambiby (bones dated to 725-560 - 1075-955 cal. years before present) and Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, respectively. We...Continue Reading

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