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Multiproxy analysis on Indian wild ass (Equus hemionus khur) dung from Little Rann of Western India and its implications for the palaeoecology and archaeology of arid regions

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Eline Van Asperen



The dung of the Indian wild ass was analyzed using biotic and abiotic proxies to determine its dietary habits inrelation to the plant diversity and ecology in the arid region of western India. The presence of both micro andmacrobotanical remains of Poaceae, Chenopodiaceae, and Fabaceae indicates they are the primary food plantsof thewild ass. The continuous recovery of arboreal pollen taxa chiefly, Prosopis, Acacia, and Ephedra is indicativeof dry thorny forest under semi-arid to arid conditions which display the existing vegetation and climate in theregion. The recovery of marshy pollen taxa like Cyperaceae and Onagraceae along with Arcella indicates utilizationof water-logged environments in the habitat. Spores of coprophilous fungi, Sporormiella, Sordaria, andPodospora are also present in the dung samples. The low value of stellate trichomes in winter dung samples reflectsthe seasonal migration of wild ass. Average δ13C values ranging between −15.8‰ and–26.3‰ are indicativeof a mixed diet of both C3 and C4 plants. The generated multiproxy data from dung samples can provide areliable counterpart to modern data for the interpretation of the palaeoecology in relation to thepalaeoherbivory and palaeodietary analysis in the region. This study also provides a basis to distinguishbetween wild and domesticated herbivores by analyzing coprolites and cultural sediments in archaeologicalsites.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pokharia AK, Basumatary SK, Thakur B, Tripathi S, McDonald HG, Tripathi D, Tiwari P, Van Asperen E, Spate M, Chauhan G, Thakkar MG, Srivastava A, Agarwal S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology

Year: 2022

Volume: 304

Print publication date: 09/06/2022

Online publication date: 01/06/2022

Acceptance date: 27/05/2022

Date deposited: 13/06/2022

ISSN (print): 0034-6667

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2022.104700


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