© 2017 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA Resource competition and niche partitioning among the exceptionally high number of sympatric ungulates of the Early Pleistocene site of Coste San Giacomo (Central Italy) is here examined through the study of their dietary proclivities and body size. The main aim of this study is to investigate the niche differentiation mechanisms that let the fossil ungulates coexist in the same region. We also provide information about the complementarity of two different methodologies that observe diet variation at a different time scales (inner and outer mesowear) in the study of dental wear patterns of fossil ungulates. Results from analyses of dental wear degree and body masses predictions show that a wide range of feeding behaviours were adopted by the taxonomical groups (i.e., cervids, bovids and equids) in order to avoid competition. Among larger ungulates diet ranges from strict browsing (Eucladoceros sp., Gazellospira torticornis), to mixed feeding (Gallogoral meneghinii, Leptobos sp.) to pure grazing (Equus stenonis), whereas smaller taxa are more selective feeders (Axis cf. lyra, Croizetoceros cf. ramosus) with only one exception (Gazella borbonica). When taxa with the same feeding behaviour occurred in the same habitat, competition was minimised by differences in body size.
- Body mass
- Dietary partitioning