Laurie Godfrey

Laurie Godfrey
University of Massachusetts Amherst | UMass Amherst · Department of Anthropology

PhD

About

286
Publications
43,134
Reads
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6,216
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 1977 - May 2015
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Position
  • Professor Emeritus
Education
September 1967 - May 1977
Harvard University
Field of study
  • Biological Anthropology

Publications

Publications (286)
Article
Sifakas (genus Propithecus ) diverge from other lemurs in their strategy to contend with Madagascar’s highly seasonal climate and maximize reproductive success: they have long lifetimes (presumably to wait out unfavorable times) and extreme dental precocity (to allow weanlings to effectively process tough foods and thereby relieve energetic stress...
Article
Objectives The Holocene arrival of humans on Madagascar precipitated major changes to the island's biodiversity. The now-extinct, endemic “subfossil” megafauna of Madagascar were likely hunted by early human inhabitants. Perhaps in part due to preferential hunting of larger prey, no surviving endemic species on Madagascar is >10 kg. Moreover, some...
Article
Migration of the inter-tropical convergence zone, driven by changes in seasonal insolation and high northern latitude temperatures, is the primary control on tropical rainfall on geologic timescales. We test this paradigm using the timing of growth of stalagmites from southwest Madagascar to infer the timing of expansion of the ITCZ to the south at...
Article
Full-text available
Most researchers believe that Madagascar’s megafauna went extinct between 2000 and 1000 years ago. Across Madagascar, fossil specimens of the island’s endemic (and now extinct) pygmy hippopotamuses, elephant birds, giant lemurs, horned crocodiles, and other vertebrates larger in body size than 10 kg commonly date to the first millennium of the Comm...
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Madagascar experienced a major faunal turnover near the end of the first millenium CE that particularly affected terrestrial, large-bodied vertebrate species. Teasing apart the relative impacts of people and climate on this event requires a focus on regional records with good chronological control. These records may document coeval changes in rainf...
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Significance Based on “subfossil” skeletal remains it is known that multiple now-extinct giant lemur (primate) species with estimated body masses of up to ∼160 kg survived on Madagascar into the past millennium. In this study, we used ancient DNA methods to sequence the nuclear genome of one of these megafaunal lemurs, Megaladapis edwardsi (∼85 kg)...
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Introduced predators currently threaten endemic animals on Madagascar through predation, facilitation of human-led hunts, competition, and disease transmission, but the antiquity and past consequences of these introductions are poorly known. We use directly radiocarbon dated bones of introduced dogs (Canis familiaris) to test whether dogs could hav...
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Background: Was there a mid-Cenozoic vertebrate extinction and recovery event in Madagascar and, if so, what are its implications for the evolution of lemurs? The near lack of an early and mid-Cenozoic fossil record on Madagascar has inhibited direct testing of any such hypotheses. We compare the terrestrial vertebrate fauna of Madagascar in the H...
Preprint
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The decline of the Mature Harappan period of the Harappan civilization in and around the Indus Valley between 4.3 and 3.9 kyr BP, its transition to the Late Harappan and subsequent abandonment by 3.0 kyr BP are frequently attributed to a reduction in summer monsoon rainfall associated with the 4.2 kyr event (4.26–3.97 kyr BP). Yet while the 4.2 kyr...
Preprint
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The 4.2 kyr event is regarded as one of the largest and best documented abrupt climate disturbances of the Holocene. Drying across the Mediterranean and Middle East is well established and is linked to societal transitions in the Akkadian, Egyptian and Harappan civilizations. Yet the impacts of this regional drought are often extended to other regi...
Preprint
Full-text available
No endemic Madagascar animal with body mass >10 kg survived a relatively recent wave of extinction on the island. From morphological and isotopic analyses of skeletal ‘subfossil’ remains we can reconstruct some of the biology and behavioral ecology of giant lemurs (primates; up to ~160 kg), elephant birds (up to ~860 kg), and other extraordinary Ma...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Holocene arrival of humans on Madagascar precipitated major changes to the island's biodiversity. The now-extinct, endemic "subfossil" megafauna of Madagascar were likely hunted by the island's early human inhabitants. Perhaps in part due to preferential hunting of larger prey, no surviving species on Madagascar is larger than 10 kg. Outside of...
Article
Full-text available
Among mammals, including anthropoid primates, the primary factors that affect mobility are body size (larger-bodied species move more than smaller ones), diet (frugivores and trophic omnivores are more mobile than folivores), and habit (terrestrial taxa have larger home ranges than arboreal ones). If similar factors hold for Lemuriformes, we would...
Article
A new fossil site in a previously unexplored part of western Madagascar (the Beanka Protected Area) has yielded remains of many recently extinct vertebrates, including giant lemurs (Babakotia radofilai, Palaeopropithecus kelyus, Pachylemur sp., and Archaeolemur edwardsi), carnivores (Cryptoprocta spelea), the aardvark-like Plesiorycteropus sp., and...
Article
The timing of the human settlement of Madagascar, one of the last large landmasses to be settled by people, remains a key topic of debate in archaeology. Despite decades of research, recent estimates for initial settlement are increasingly divergent and span ca. 9000 years: the widest colonization window for any island within the reliable range of...
Article
Madagascar is a complex ‘biodiversity hotspot’ with a rapidly dwindling biota. The Late Quaternary subfossil record includes many extinct species whose loss is attributed to natural climate change and human impacts. Investigation of the chronology of these events is challenging because few localities document pre‐Holocene communities not impacted b...
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Anthropogenic habitat change can have varied impacts on primates, including both negative and positive outcomes. Even when behavioural shifts are seen, they may reflect decreased health, or simply behavioural flexibility; understanding this distinction is important for conservation efforts. This study examines habitat-related variation in adult and...
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Full-text available
Anthropogenic habitat change can have varied impacts on primates, including both negative and positive outcomes. Even when behavioural shifts are seen, they may reflect decreased health, or simply behavioural flexibility; understanding this distinction is important for conservation efforts. This study examines habitat-related variation in adult and...
Article
Full-text available
The extent to which Madagascar’s Holocene extinct lemurs fell victim to nonhuman predators is poorly understood. Madagascar’s Holocene predator guild included several now-extinct species, i.e., crocodiles, carnivorans, and raptors. Here we focus on mammalian carnivory, specifically the roles of Cryptoprocta spelea and its still-extant but smaller-b...
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The global paleomonsoon concept predicts an antiphase response of monsoon rainfall in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at timescales where there is asymmetric solar forcing and/or asymmetric hemispheric temperature changes. However, as different monsoon systems have different sensitivities to local, regional, and global forcing, rainfall respo...
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Previous research suggests that people first arrived on Madagascar by ~2500 years before present (years B.P.). This hypothesis is consistent with butchery marks on extinct lemur bones from ~2400 years B.P. and perhaps with archaeological evidence of human presence from ~4000 years B.P. We report >10,500-year-old human-modified bones for the extinct...
Article
The reddish-gray mouse lemur (Microcebus griseorufus) possesses striking phenotypic and behavioral variation. This project investigates differences in autopod proportions in neighboring populations of M. griseorufus from the Special Reserve at Bezà Mahafaly in southwest Madagascar. One population resides in an environment generally preferred by M....
Article
Paleoclimate studies of tropical rainfall have led to a recognition of a predominant pattern of anti-phase behavior between the Northern and Southern hemispheres at both orbital and millennial timescales. Less certain is how regional tropical rainfall patterns have changed in the late Holocene, under boundary conditions and on timescales which are...
Chapter
Seventeen species of large-bodied lemurs recently lived on the island of Madagascar alongside their smaller-bodied still-extant relatives. Called koala lemurs, monkey lemurs, and sloth lemurs (because of their convergences with other, distantly related animals), these lemurs occupied a wide variety of niches, displayed a range of locomotor behavior...
Chapter
Koala” lemurs (family Megaladapidae, genus Megaladapis) are members of a spectacular radiation of primates, the lemurs, on the island of Madagascar. All members of Megaladapis became extinct recently, well after humans colonized the island, and some possibly even after Europeans arrived. Megaladapis converged strikingly on koalas of Australia due p...
Chapter
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The modern strepsirhines (as distinct from the extinct Eocene strepsirhines, or Adapiformes, and including the recently extinct subfossil lemurs) make up a major proportion of Holocene primate diversity. Their current range includes the tropical and subtropical forests and woodlands of Africa, Madagascar, and Southeast Asia. By far the greatest div...
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Evidence of historic predation is important to understand the role that predators play in molding fundamental aspects of primate biology. We examined the geographic demise of Prolemur simus from the perspective of its past behavioral ecology. Using paleontological data from the Late Pleistocene–Holocene deposits at Ankarana Massif, northern Madagas...
Chapter
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Extinct lemurs exhibit tremendous heterogeneity in hand morphology, largely reflecting differences in locomotor behavior. While no extinct lemur can be described as exclusively arboreal or exclusively terrestrial, the Archaeolemuridae were likely highly terrestrial, the Megaladapidae were slow, vertical climbers, and the Palaeopropithecidae were hi...
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Researchers are divided about the relative importance of people versus climate in triggering the Late Holocene extinctions of the endemic large-bodied fauna on the island of Madagascar. Specifically, a dramatic and synchronous decline in arboreal pollen and increase in grass pollen ca 1000 yr ago has been alternatively interpreted as evidence for a...
Article
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The main threats to lemurs are habitat loss and hunting. Conservation policies often assume that people will decrease lemur hunting if they understand government prohibitions on hunting, are educated and/or involved in ecotourism, have access to affordable meat, and/or are healthy and financially secure. Yet these assumptions are often not well tes...
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Over 40 years ago, Clifford Jolly noted different ways in which Hadropithecus stenognathus converged in its craniodental anatomy with basal hominins and with geladas. The Malagasy subfossil lemur Hadropithecus departs from its sister taxon, Archaeolemur, in that it displays comparatively large molars, reduced incisors and canines, a shortened rostr...
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At Bezà Mahafaly Special Reserve (BMSR), Madagascar, mouse lemurs (Microcebus griseorufus) are parasitized by multiple species of haemaphysaline ticks. At present we know little about the role ticks play in wild lemur populations and how they can alter interspecies relationships within communities or impact host fitness. In order to better understa...
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Skeletal histology supports the hypothesis that primate life histories are regulated by a neuroendocrine rhythm, the Havers-Halberg Oscillation (HHO). Interestingly, subfossil lemurs are outliers in HHO scaling relationships that have been discovered for haplorhine primates and other mammals. We present new data to determine whether these species r...
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Small-bodied, nocturnal mouse lemurs (Microcebus) are widespread across diverse forest habitats in Madagascar. They are strict seasonal breeders and can, depending on the habitat and species, undergo daily or prolonged torpor to minimize energy expenditure during periods of food and water scarcity. Duration of reproduction, number of litters per se...
Conference Paper
The main threats to lemurs are habitat loss and hunting. Conservation policies often assume that people will decrease lemur hunting if they understand government prohibitions on hunting, are educated and/or involved in ecotourism, have access to affordable meat, and/or are healthy and financially secure. Yet these assumptions are often not well tes...
Conference Paper
Faunal remains at archaeological sites can be used to address direct anthropogenic impacts on ecosystems. However, due to the late arrival of modern humans to Madagascar the decline of megafauna on the island, particularly of giant lemurs, remains under debate. Currently, direct evidence of human skeletal modifications and hunting of megafauna is l...
Chapter
The dwarf lemurs of Madagascar (genus Cheirogaleus) are the only obligatory hibernators within the order Primates. Today, hibernation is used by dwarf lemur species in a variety of forest habitats, from dry deciduous, littoral to rainforest, although its expression varies within and between species. We collected data on Cheirogaleus sibreei and C....
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Research Cite this article: Berthaume MA, Dumont ER, Godfrey LR, Grosse IR. 2014 The effects of relative food item size on optimal tooth cusp sharpness during brittle food item processing. Teeth are often assumed to be optimal for their function, which allows researchers to derive dietary signatures from tooth shape. Most tooth shape analyses norma...
Article
We examine the ecology of reddish-gray mouse lemurs from three habitats at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve using focal follows and stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data. Focal observations indicate dietary differences among habitats as well as sexes and seasons. Both sexes consume more arthropods during the rainy season but overall, females consume...
Article
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Tooth cusp sharpness, measured by radius of curvature (RoC), has been predicted to play a significant role in brittle/hard food item fracture. Here, we set out to test three existing hypotheses about this relationship: namely, the Blunt and Strong Cusp hypotheses, which predict that dull cusps will be most efficient at brittle food item fracture, a...
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Analyses of phylogenetic topology and estimates of divergence timing have facilitated a reconstruction of Madagascar's colonization events by vertebrate animals, but that information alone does not reveal the major factors shaping the island's biogeographic history. Here, we examine profiles of Malagasy vertebrate clades through time within the con...
Data
Database summarizing biogeographic scenarios of Madagascar’s vertebrate fauna. Class was scored as 1 = Osteichthyes, 2 = Amphibia, 3 = Reptilia, 4 = Aves, 5 = Mammalia. Animals were scored as 1 = extinct or 2 = extant. Time was scored as 1 = Pre K-T, 2 = Post K-T to mid-Miocene, and 3 = mid Miocene to present. Source was scored as 1 = Gondwana, 2 =...
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Plants evolve physical defences, such as spines, against browsing herbivores. However, in some cases, these defences may be anachronistic because the principal consumers of protected parts of the plant are extinct. In such cases, there may be few extant species consuming heavily defended resources. Here we examine the spiny defences of Madagascar's...