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Evolution of herbivory in vertebrates: developing combined isotope (Ca, Sr) and dental surface texture analysis as deep time diet proxies

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 VERTEBRATE HERBIVORY project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the VERTEBRATE HERBIVORY project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "VERTEBRATE HERBIVORY" about.

ontogenetic    niche    calibrated    3d    insights    archaeology    stable    relationships    taxa    textures    switches    interaction    flexibility    hinge    ancestors    plant    infer    tracks    anthropology    proxies    palaeoecology    texture    sampling    3dst    combined    driving    evolutionary    mammal    spatiotemporal    herbivory    animals    wear    combine    pioneer    habitat    tooth    techniques    radiogenic    micro    scales    skeletal    vertebrates    partitioning    ecology    proxy    surface    trophic    explore    feeding    simulating    record    hypotheses    food    reptiles    reconstruct    radiation    broadly    palaeontology    independently    versatile    exploring    toolset    morphology    applicable    ca    time    enamel    diet    abrasion    dental    analysing    series    sr    preservation    webs    extinct    diets    first    isotopic    teeth    fundamental    experiments    wild    compositions    evolution    isotopes    dinosaurs    traits    events    extant    dietary    destructive    isotope    mostly    fossil    vertebrate    extinction   

Project "VERTEBRATE HERBIVORY" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: SAARSTRASSE 21
city: MAINZ
postcode: 55122

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Germany [DE]
 Project website
 Total cost 1˙728˙065 €
 EC max contribution 1˙728˙065 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2015-CoG
 Funding Scheme ERC-COG
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-09-01   to  2021-08-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

Diet is a key factor driving vertebrate evolution. Exploring dietary traits and trophic relationships in fossil food webs is fundamental for understanding radiation and extinction events. This project aims to constrain the evolution of herbivory (plant feeding) and trophic interaction of extinct vertebrates at different spatiotemporal scales by analysing their teeth with isotopic and dental wear techniques. A new approach of combined Ca and stable Sr isotope as well as 3D surface texture (3DST) analysis will be developed and applied to fossil teeth of mammal-ancestors and dinosaurs. Teeth record time-series of diet-related isotope compositions in their enamel while their surface tracks short-term food abrasion. These diet proxies will be calibrated on extant vertebrates with well-known diets from wild animals and controlled feeding experiments simulating diet and trophic level switches. Both Ca isotopes and enamel surface textures have a high preservation potential in fossil teeth and enable micro sampling of enamel for Ca isotope and non-destructive 3DST analysis. For the first time, I will combine Ca isotope and 3DST analysis to reconstruct the diet of extinct key vertebrate taxa and their trophic level in fossil food webs. This multi-proxy approach will provide a versatile toolset to test independently feeding hypotheses that mostly hinge on tooth and skeletal morphology, leading to fundamental new insights into the palaeoecology, dietary flexibility and niche partitioning of fossil vertebrates. The aim is to reconstruct the evolution of herbivory in vertebrates. Here, major objectives are: 1) to infer ontogenetic and evolutionary diet changes by combined Ca isotope and 3DST analysis of fossil teeth, 2) explore stable and radiogenic Sr isotopes as combined proxies for trophic level and habitat use, and 3) pioneer 3DST analysis for reptiles. Beyond the field of palaeontology these dietary proxies will be broadly applicable in archaeology, anthropology and ecology.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Michael Tatzel, Jochen Vogl, Martin Rosner, Michael J. Henehan, Thomas Tütken
Triple Isotope Fractionation Exponents of Elements Measured by MC-ICP-MS—An Example of Mg
published pages: , ISSN: 0003-2700, DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.9b02699
Analytical Chemistry 2020-01-28
2019 Elehna Bethune, Thomas M. Kaiser, Ellen Schulz-Kornas, Daniela E. Winkler
Multiproxy dietary trait reconstruction in Pleistocene Hippopotamidae from the Mediterranean islands
published pages: 109210, ISSN: 0031-0182, DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2019.05.032
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 533 2020-01-28
2019 Guy Sisma-Ventura, Thomas Tütken, Stefan T. M. Peters, Or M. Bialik, Irit Zohar, Andreas Pack
Past aquatic environments in the Levant inferred from stable isotope compositions of carbonate and phosphate in fish teeth
published pages: e0220390, ISSN: 1932-6203, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220390
PLOS ONE 14/7 2020-01-28
2019 Louise F. Martin, Daniela Winkler, Thomas Tütken, Daryl Codron, Annelies De Cuyper, Jean-Michel Hatt, Marcus Clauss
The way wear goes: phytolith-based wear on the dentine–enamel system in guinea pigs ( Cavia porcellus )
published pages: 20191921, ISSN: 0962-8452, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.1921
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 286/1912 2020-01-28
2019 Daniela E. Winkler, Ellen Schulz-Kornas, Thomas M. Kaiser, Thomas Tütken
Dental microwear texture reflects dietary tendencies in extant Lepidosauria despite their limited use of oral food processing
published pages: 20190544, ISSN: 0962-8452, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.0544
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 286/1903 2020-01-28
2019 Nicole L. Ackermans, Marcus Clauss, Daniela E. Winkler, Ellen Schulz-Kornas, Thomas M. Kaiser, Dennis W. H. Müller, Patrick R. Kircher, Jürgen Hummel, Jean-Michel Hatt
Root growth compensates for molar wear in adult goats ( Capra aegagrus hircus )
published pages: 139-148, ISSN: 2471-5638, DOI: 10.1002/jez.2248
Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology 331/2 2020-01-28
2019 Katrin Böhm, Daniela E. Winkler, Thomas M. Kaiser, Thomas Tütken
Post-mortem alteration of diet-related enamel surface textures through artificial biostratinomy: A tumbling experiment using mammal teeth
published pages: 215-231, ISSN: 0031-0182, DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2019.01.008
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 518 2020-01-28
2019 Daniela E. Winkler, Ellen Schulz-Kornas, Thomas M. Kaiser, Annelies De Cuyper, Marcus Clauss, Thomas Tütken
Forage silica and water content control dental surface texture in guinea pigs and provide implications for dietary reconstruction
published pages: 1325-1330, ISSN: 0027-8424, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1814081116
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116/4 2020-01-28
2019 Zhou Z., Winkler D.E., Fortuny J., Kaiser T.M., Marcé-Nogie J.
Why ruminants chew sloppy: Biomechanics discern a phylogenetic pattern
published pages: , ISSN: 1932-6203, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214510
PloS ONE 2020-01-28

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