Diet and habitat were estimated, based on stable isotopes, for six species of proboscideans inhabiting the Americas during the Pleistocene. In North America, Mammuthus columbi (Elephantidae) was a mixed C3/C4 herbivore inhabiting open areas, while Mammut americanum (Mammutidae) fed exclusively on C3 plants and preferred closed areas. In contrast, members of the family Gomphotheriidae showed a wide range of food preference and habitats. This is the case of Cuvieronius tropicus, a mixed-diet herbivore living in open areas. In South America, another gomphothere — Cuvieronius hyodon — inhabited open areas and had a C3-plant diet similar to others from some Southern plains such as Stegomastodon platensis. On the other hand, S. waringi from tropical South America lived in open areas and had a C3/C4 mixed diet. The fact that gomphotheres had more flexible diet habits could explain why those animals were able to cross the Panamanian Isthmus, while mammoths and mastodons did not.
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Vol. 53 • No. 1