The conditions under which early euprimates (adapids and omomyids) originated and evolved is an area of longstanding debate. The leading hypotheses of euprimate origins promulgate diet as a core component of the early evolution of this group, despite the role of dietary competition in euprimate originations never being tested directly. This study compared three competition models (non-competition, competitive displacement, competitive coexistence) with observed patterns of dietary niche overlap, reconstructed from three-dimensional molar morphology, at the time of the euprimate radiation in North America (at the Paleocene–Eocene boundary). Overlap of reconstructed multidimensional dietary niches between euprimates and members of their guild were analysed using a modified MANOVA to establish the nature of the competitive environment surrounding euprimate origins in North America (an immigration event). Results indicated that adapids entered the mammalian guild in the absence of competition, suggesting dietary adaptations that were unique within the community. Conversely, omomyids experienced strong, but transitory, competition with nyctitheriids, suggesting that omomyids possessed the ability to out-compete this group. These results show that adapids and omomyids experienced different competitive scenarios upon their arrival (origination) in North America and confirms the significance of diet (and dietary adaptations) in euprimate origination and early diversification in mammalian communities.
|Date made available||2018|