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Trends Ecol Evol. 1997 May;12(5):182-7.

Origin and evolution of the grazing guild in new world terrestrial mammals.

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The Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-7800, USA.


Although vertebrate herbivory has existed on land for about 300 million years, the grazingadaptation, principally developed in mammals, did not appear until the middle Cenozoic about 30 million years ago. Paleontological evidence indicates that grazing mammals diversified at the time of the spread of grasslands. Recently revised fossil calibrations reveal that the grazing mammal guild originated during the early Miocene in South America about 10-15 million years earlier than it did during the late Miocene in the northern hemisphere. Carbon isotopic analyses of extinct grazers' teeth reveal that this guild originated predominantly in C(3) terrestrial ecosystems. The present-day distribution of C(3) and C(4) grasslands evolved on the global ecological landscape since the late Miocene, after about 7 million years ago.

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