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Subfossil lemur discoveries from the Beanka Protected Area in western Madagascar

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 October 2019

David A. Burney*
Affiliation:
National Tropical Botanical Garden, 3530 Papalina Road, Kalaheo, Hawaii 96741, USA
Haingoson Andriamialison
Affiliation:
Mention Anthropobiologie et Développement Durable, Domaine Sciences et Technologie, Université de Antananarivo, B.P. 906, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
Radosoa A. Andrianaivoarivelo
Affiliation:
Biodiversity Conservation Madagascar, B.P. 11028, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
Steven Bourne
Affiliation:
Naracoorte Lucindale Council, P.O. Box 2153, Naracoorte, Australia
Brooke E. Crowley
Affiliation:
Departments of Geology and Anthropology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221, USA
Erik J. de Boer
Affiliation:
Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera (ICTJA-CSIC), Lluís Solé i Sabaris s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Laurie R. Godfrey
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts–Amherst, 240 Hicks Way, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA
Steven M. Goodman
Affiliation:
Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60605, USA Association Vahatra, BP 3972, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
Christine Griffiths
Affiliation:
Biodiversity Conservation Madagascar, B.P. 11028, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
Owen Griffiths
Affiliation:
Biodiversity Conservation Madagascar, B.P. 11028, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar Australian Museum, 1 William St., Sydney, New South Wales 2010, Australia
Julian P. Hume
Affiliation:
Bird Group, Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, Akeman Street, Tring HP23 6AP, United Kingdom
Walter G. Joyce
Affiliation:
Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland
William L. Jungers
Affiliation:
Association Vahatra, BP 3972, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
Stephanie Marciniak
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University, Old Main, State College, Pennsylvania 16801, USA
Gregory J. Middleton
Affiliation:
Sydney Speleological Society, Box 269, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7006, Australia
Kathleen M. Muldoon
Affiliation:
Department of Anatomy, College of Graduate Studies, Midwestern University, Glendale, Arizona 85308, USA
Eliette Noromalala
Affiliation:
Mention Anthropobiologie et Développement Durable, Domaine Sciences et Technologie, Université de Antananarivo, B.P. 906, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
Ventura R. Pérez
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts–Amherst, 240 Hicks Way, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA
George H. Perry
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University, Old Main, State College, Pennsylvania 16801, USA
Roger Randalana
Affiliation:
Biodiversity Conservation Madagascar, B.P. 11028, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
Henry T. Wright
Affiliation:
Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, and Santa Fe Institute, 1399 Hyde Park Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501, USA
*
*Corresponding author at: P.O. Box 36, Gloucester, North Carolina 28528, USA. E-mail address: dburney999@gmail.com (D.A. Burney).

Abstract

A new fossil site in a previously unexplored part of western Madagascar (the Beanka Protected Area) has yielded remains of many recently extinct vertebrates, including giant lemurs (Babakotia radofilai, Palaeopropithecus kelyus, Pachylemur sp., and Archaeolemur edwardsi), carnivores (Cryptoprocta spelea), the aardvark-like Plesiorycteropus sp., and giant ground cuckoos (Coua). Many of these represent considerable range extensions. Extant species that were extirpated from the region (e.g., Prolemur simus) are also present. Calibrated radiocarbon ages for 10 bones from extinct primates span the last three millennia. The largely undisturbed taphonomy of bone deposits supports the interpretation that many specimens fell in from a rock ledge above the entrance. Some primates and other mammals may have been prey items of avian predators, but human predation is also evident. Strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) suggest that fossils were local to the area. Pottery sherds and bones of extinct and extant vertebrates with cut and chop marks indicate human activity in previous centuries. Scarcity of charcoal and human artifacts suggests only occasional visitation to the site by humans. The fossil assemblage from this site is unusual in that, while it contains many sloth lemurs, it lacks ratites, hippopotami, and crocodiles typical of nearly all other Holocene subfossil sites on Madagascar.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2019 

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