, Volume 96, Issue 5, pp 565–574 | Cite as

The mammal assemblage of the hominid site TM266 (Late Miocene, Chad Basin): ecological structure and paleoenvironmental implications

  • Soizic Le Fur
  • Emmanuel Fara
  • Hassane Taïsso Mackaye
  • Patrick VignaudEmail author
  • Michel Brunet
Original Paper


Characterizing the paleoenvironmental context of the first hominids is a key issue for understanding their behavioral and morphological evolution. The present study aims at reconstructing the paleoenvironment of the TM266 vertebrate assemblage (Toros-Menalla, Northern Chad) that yielded the earliest known hominid Sahelanthropus tchadensis (7 Ma). For the first time, a quantitative analysis is carried out on the fossil mammal assemblage associated with that hominid. Two complementary approaches were applied: (1) the analysis of the relative abundances of taxa and their habitat preferences; and (2) the study of the distribution of taxa within three meaningful ecovariables: locomotion, feeding preferences, and body mass. The resulting taxonomic and paleoecological structures are used to reconstruct the diversity and the relative extent of the habitats in that part of northern Chad seven million years ago. The paleoenvironment was composed of open areas with dry and humid grasslands, prevailing over wooded habitats. Water was also widely available as freshwater bodies and certainly swamps. It appears that the high habitat diversity of the landscape is a common feature among paleoenvironments associated with early hominids.


Mammal paleocommunity Paleoenvironments Early hominids Chad Late Miocene 



We thank the authorities from Chad (Ministère de l’Education nationale, de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, Université de N’Djamena, CNAR) and France (MESR, Faculté des Sciences, Université de Poitiers, CNRS, Programme Eclipse, ANR 05-BLAN-0235, and MAE, DCSUR Paris, Projet FSP 2005-54 de la Coopération franco-tchadienne et Ambassade de France à N’Djamena), as well as the Région Poitou-Charente and the French army. We are grateful to the NSF and the RHOI (co-PI’s F.C. Howell and T.D. White). We also thank all of the MPFT participants for the field, technical, and/or administrative work, and the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive criticisms on the manuscript. The experiments performed in this study comply with the current laws of France.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Soizic Le Fur
    • 1
  • Emmanuel Fara
    • 2
  • Hassane Taïsso Mackaye
    • 3
  • Patrick Vignaud
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michel Brunet
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut de Paléoprimatologie et Paléontologie Humaine, Evolution et Paléoenvironnements, IPHEP, UMR 6046/CNRS, UFR SFAUniversité de PoitiersPoitiers cedexFrance
  2. 2.BiogéosciencesUniversité de Bourgogne/CNRS, UMR 5561DijonFrance
  3. 3.Département de PaléontologieUniversité de N’DjamenaN’DjamenaChad
  4. 4.Collège de FranceChaire de Paléontologie HumaineParis Cedex 05France

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