Skip to main content

AMS 14C Dates for Extinct Lemurs from Caves in the Ankarana Massif, Northern Madagascar

  • Elwyn L. Simons (a1), David A. Burney (a2), Prithijit S. Chatrath (a1), Laurie R. Godfrey (a3) (a4), William L. Jungers and Berthe Rakotosamimanana (a5)...

An extensive late Quaternary fauna, including many extinct giant lemurs, has been collected recently in a 110+-km system of caves in the Ankarana Massif of northern Madagascar. AMS 14C dates for the acid-insoluble (collagen/gelatin) fraction of bones of the giant lemur Megaladapis (26,150 ± 400 and 12,760 ± 70 yr B.P.) confirm its presence in the area during the late Pleistocene and provide the first Pleistocene 14 C ages from bones of the extinct megafauna of the island. The first date from bones of the recently described extinct Babakotia radofilai (4400 ± 60 yr B.P.) shows that it was present in northern Madagascar in mid-Holocene times. A comparatively recent age of 1020 ± 50 yr B.P. for the extinct Archaeolemur indicates survival of this genus for at least a millennium after the first direct evidence for humans in Madagascar. This suggests that the island's "extinction window" may have represented a longer time span than would have been expected under the Blitzkrieg model of late Quaternary extinctions. A mid-Holocene age (4560 ± 70 yr B.P.) for a bone sample of the small extant lemur Hapalemur simus indicates that the disappearance of this now-restricted species from the Ankarana occurred after this date. New data from the Ankarana and other sites on the island add to the consensus that major biotic changes occurred on Madagascar in the late Holocene.

Hide All
Battistini, R., and V6rin, P. (1967). Ecologic changes in prehistoric Madagascar. In “Pleistocene Extinctions: The Search for a Cause” (Martin, P. S. and Klein, R. G., Eds.), pp. 407424. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, CT.
Burney, D. A, (1987a). Late Quaternary stratigraphic charcoal records from Madagascar. Quaternary Research 28, 274280.
Burney, D. A. (1987b). Pre-settlement vegetation changes at Lake Tritrivakely, Madagascar. Palaeoecology of Africa 18, 357381.
Burney, D. A. (1987c). Late Holocene vegetational change in central Madagascar, Quaternary Research 28, 130143.
Burney, D. A. (1993a). Recent animal extinctions: Recipes for disaster. American Scientist 81, 530541.
Burney, D. A. (1993b). Late Holocene environmental changes in arid southwestern Madagascar. Quaternary Research 40, 98106.
Burney, D. A., and MacPhee, R. D. E. (1988). Mysterious island: What killed Madagascar’s large native animals? Natural History 97(7), 4655.
Burney, D. A. James, H. F. Grady, F. V. Rafamantanantsoa, J.-G. Ramilisonina, R. Wright, H. T., and Cowart, J. B., in press. Environmental change, extinction, and human activity: Evidence from caves in NW Madagascar. Research and Exploration.
Dewar, R. E. (1984). Recent extinctions in Madagascar: the loss of the subfossil fauna. In “Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution” (Martin, P. S. and Klein, R. G., Eds.), pp. 574593. Univ. Arizona Press, TUcson.
Dewar, R. E., and Rakotovololona, S. (1992). La chasse aux subfossiles: Les preuves du Xlleme siecle au XlUeme siecle. Taloha 11, 415.
Godfrey, L. R. (1986). The tale of the tsy-aomby-aomby. The Sciences 1986, 4951.
Godfrey, L. R., and Vuillaume-Randriamanantena, M. (1986). Hapalemur simus: Endangered lemur once widespread. Primate Conservation 7, 9296.
Godfrey, L. R. Simons, E. L. Chatrath, P. S., and Rakotosamimanana, B. (1990). A new fossil lemur (Babakotia, Primates) from northern Madagascar. Comptes Rendus de VAcademe des Sciences, Paris 310, 8187.
Godfrey, L. R. Jungers, W. L. Simons, E, L. Chatrath, P. S., and Rakotosamimanana, B. (1992). The evolution of sloth lemurs, American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Suppl.) 14, 82.
James, H. F. Stafford, T. W. Jr. Steadman, D. W. Olson, S. L. Martin, P. S. Jull, A. J. T., and McCoy, P. C. (1987). Radiocarbon dates on bones of extinct birds from Hawaii. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 84, 23502354.
Jungers, W. L. Godfrey, L. R. Simons, E. L. Chatrath, P. S., and Rakotosamimanana, B. (1991). Phylogenetic and functional affinities of Babakotia (Primates), a fossil lemur from northern Madagascar. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 88, 90829086.
Long, A. Hendershott, R. B., and Martin, P. S. (1983). Radiocarbon dating of fossil eggshell. Radiocarbon 25, 533539.
MacPhee, R. D. E., and Burney, D. A. (1991). Dating of modified femora of extinct dwarf Hippopotamus from southern Madagascar: Implications for constraining human colonization and vertebrate extinction events. Journal of Archaeological Science 18, 695706.
MacPhee, R. D. E. Burney, D. A., and Wells, N. A. (1985). Early Holocene chronology and environment of Ampasambazimba, a Malagasy subfossil lemur site. International Journal of Primatology 6(5), 463489.
Mah£, J., and Sourdat, M. (1972). Sur 1’extinction des vert£br£s subfossiles et 1’aridification du climat dans le sud-ouest de Madagascar. Bulletin de la Societe Geologique de France 14, 295309.
Martin, P. S. (1984). Prehistoric overkill: the global model. In “Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution” (Martin, P. S. and Klein, R. G., Eds.), pp. 354403. Univ. Arizona Press, Tucson.
Matsumoto, K., and Burney, D. A. (1994). Late Holocene environments at Lake Mitsinjo, northwestern Madagascar. The Holocene 4(1), 1725.
Mead, J. I., and Meltzer, D. 3. (1984). North American late Quaternary extinctions and the radiocarbon record. In “Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution” (Martin, P. S. and Klein, R. G., Eds.), pp. 440450. Univ. Arizona Press, TUcson.
Raybaud, (1902). Rapport de M. l’administrateur Raybaud sur les gisements fossiliferes d’Ampasambazimba. Bulletin de VAcadimie Malgache 1(2), 6467.
Reyes, N. (1993). “The Modem Diatom Spectra of Madagascar and Diatom-Inferred Late Quaternary Climatic Changes in Northeastern and Central Madagascar.” Ph.D. dissertation, Fordham University, New York.
Simons, E, L, Godfrey, L. R. Vuillaume-Randriamanantena, M. Chatrath, P. S., and Gagnon, M. (1990). Discovery of new giant subfossil lemurs in the Ankarana Mountains of northern Madagascar. Journal of Human Evolution 19, 311319.
Simons, E. L. Godfrey, L. R. Jungers, W. L. Chatrath, P. S., and Rakotosamimanana, B. (1992). A new giant subfossil lemur, Babako-tia, and the evolution of the sloth lemurs. Folia Primatologica 58, 197203.
Simons, E. L. Godfrey, L. R. Jurgers, W. L. Chatrath, P. S., and Ravaodrisod, J., in press. A new species of Mesopropithecus (Pri-mates, Palaeopropithecidae) from northern Madagascar. International Journal of Primatology.
Stafford, T. W. Jr. Hare, P. E. Currie, L. Jull, A. J. T., and Donahue, D. J. (1991). Accelerator radiocarbon dating at the molecular level. Journal of Archaeological Science 18, 3572.
Steadman, D. W. Stafford, T. W„ Jr. Donahue, D. J., and Jull, A. J. T. (1991). Chronology of Holocene vertebrate extinction in the Galapagos Islands. Quaternary Research 36, 126133.
Stuiver, M., and Pearson, G. W, (1986). High-precision calibration of the radiocarbon time scale, AD 1950-500 BC. Radiocarbon 28, 805838.
Sues, H.-D. (1980). A pachycephalosaurid dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of Madagascar and its paleogeographical implications. Journal of Paleontology 54, 954962.
Talma, A. S., and Vogel, J. C. (1993). A simplified approach to the calibration of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon 35(2), 317322.
Tattersall, I. (1982). “The Primates of Madagascar.” Columbia Univ. Press, New York.
Vogel, J. C. Fuls, A. Visser, E., and Becker, B. (1993). Pretoria calibration curve for short-lived samples, 1930-3350 B.C. Radiocarbon 35(J), 7386.
Vuillaume-Randriamanantena, M. Godfrey, L. R., and Sutherland, M. R. (1985). Revision of Hapalemur (Prohapalemur) gallieni (Standing, 1905). Folia Primatologica 45, 89116.
Wilson, J. (1987a). The Crocodile Caves of Ankarana: Expedition to northern Madagascar, 1986. Cave Science 14(3), 107119.
Wilson, J. (1987b). The crocodile caves of Ankarana, Madagascar. Oryx 21(1), 4347.
Wright, H. T. Andrianalvoarivony, R. Bailiff, I. Burney, D. Haas, H. Raharijaona, V. Rakotovololona, S. Rasamuel, D., and Dewar, R. (1992). Datation absolue de sites arch£ologiques du centre de Madagascar—presentation des determinations. Taloha 11, 121146.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed