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Böhmer, Christine; Heissig, Kurt and Rössner, Gertrud E. (2016): Dental Eruption Series and Replacement Pattern in Miocene Prosantorhinus (Rhinocerotidae) as Revealed by Macroscopy and X-ray: Implications for Ontogeny and Mortality Profile. In: Journal of Mammalian Evolution, Vol. 23, No. 3: pp. 265-279

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Fossil evidence of complete sequences of dental ontogeny in extinct mammals is rare but contains valuable information on the animal's physiology, life history, and individual age. Here, we analyzed an exceptionally high number of juvenile dentaries at different developmental stages including highly fragile tooth germs of the extinct rhinoceros Prosantorhinus germanicus from the Miocene fossil lagerstatte Sandelzhausen in Germany. We used dental wear stages, eruption stages, and tooth germ development in order to reconstruct the tooth replacement pattern for P. germanicus. The results allow for the distinction of 11 dental eruption stages and document a tooth eruption sequence of (d2, d3), (d1, d4), m1, m2, p2, p3, p4, m3;a pattern identical to that reported for the extant African rhinoceros, Diceros bicornis. Moreover, our findings indicate that P. germanicus falls into the life history category of slow-growing, long-living mammals. The dental eruption stages of the fossil rhinoceros were correlated with data of living rhinoceroses in order to gain insight into the age-at-death distribution of P. germanicus at Sandelzhausen. The juvenile mortality profile of P. germanicus shows a trend of selective mortality at an inferred age range of about 3 months to 3 years. As this age range represents a life phase of increased natural risk of mortality, our findings indicate a gradual accumulation of corpses (attritional fossil assemblage). This result supports the interpretation of a taphocenosis found at the Sandelzhausen fossil site.

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