East African hominin and suid environments in the Turkana Basin: An analysis of fossil Suidae (Mammalia, Artiodactyla) mandibular ecomorphology
Cuddahee, Rebecca E.
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At East African fossil bearing localities, pigs (suids) are abundant, ubiquitous, and are frequently associated with fossil hominins. Suid paleoecology has proven particularly useful for understanding hominin paleoecology. With this framework in mind, this dissertation investigates the mandibular and dental dietary adaptations in East African pigs during the late Miocene through early Pleistocene. The first part of this study identifies morphologic characters correlated with both diet and habitat preference(s) in three extant African suid genera ( Phacochoerus, Hylochoerus, and Potamochoerus ). The second part of this study investigates such relationships in extinct suid genera ( Nyanzachoerus, Notochoerus, Kolpochoerus, and Metridiochoerus ) from the Kanapoi, Koobi Fora, Nachukui, and Nawata Formations. This research aims to: (1) identify the morphologic features of the suid mandible and dentition that reflect dietary and habitat preferences; (2) use fossil suid mandibular ecomorphology as a proxy to reconstruct paleoenvironments; and (3) identify habitats and food resources potentially available to hominins. Because of the common association of pigs (suids) and people (hominids) in the fossil record, this research contributes to a broader understanding of the paleocology of both families, Suidae and Hominidae.