Nature2013-12-11 12:56 AM

The oldest known communal latrines provide evidence of gregarism in Triassic megaherbivores 已知最古老的(史前动物)“公共厕所”为三叠纪大型食草动物的群居性提供了(有力)证据

Abstract Defecation in communal latrines is a common behaviour of extant mammals widely distributed among megaherbivores. This behaviour has key social functions with important biological and ecological implications. Herbivore communal latrines are only documented among mammals and their fossil record is exceptionally restricted to the late Cenozoic. Here we report the discovery of several massive coprolite associations in the Middle-Late Triassic of the Chañares Formation, Argentina, which represent fossil communal latrines based on a high areal density, small areal extension and taphonomic attributes. Several lines of evidence (size, morphology, abundance and coprofabrics) and their association with kannemeyeriiform dicynodonts indicate that these large synapsids produced the communal latrines and had a gregarious behaviour comparable to that of extant megaherbivores. This is the first evidence of megaherbivore communal latrines in non-mammal vertebrates, indicating that this mammal-type behaviour was present in distant relatives of mammals, and predates its previous oldest record by 220 Mya. 论文摘要 在固定“公共厕所”排便是广泛存在于现有大型食草动物间的行为习惯。这一集体行为不仅起关键的社交作用,还具有重要的生物和生态学上的(深远)影响。文献记载只有哺乳动物中的食草动物“发明”使用集体“公共厕所”,且有关这些动物的现有化石记录都仅局限于晚新生代时期。这项研究中,我们在阿根廷(西北部拉里奥哈省)查纳雷斯遗址堆中挖掘发现了大规模粪化石堆,这些粪化石堆的年代可追溯至三叠纪中晚期,它具有的高面密度(即相互堆积),仅在小范围扩展(即集中于固定区域)和埋藏的属性都充分表明它是一个(被动物集中使用的)化石化的(史前)“公共厕所”。(化石样本体型,形态,数量,粪织物等)几方面不同的线索以及他们与肯氏兽超科二齿兽动物间千丝万缕的关联均表明这些大型单孔亚纲(似哺乳爬行动物)集体“发明”了(史前)“公共厕所”,他们表现出的这一群居社交行为完全可与现存大型食草动物具有的群居社交属性相媲美。这是我们首次发现非哺乳类(爬行)脊椎动物中的大型食草动物(拥有使用史前)“公共厕所”,这表明哺乳类动物具有的这一典型行为同样可在哺乳类动物远亲的行为中寻到踪迹。这一发现同时也将先前最早的考古记录提早推溯至2.2亿年前。

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