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L’audition chez les primates : entre forme, fonction, écologie et comportement

Abstract : The order Primates is composed of species whose morphologies, life history traits and behaviors are very diversified. The oldest representatives are dated about 65 million years. Because of this diversity, studies have focused on understanding the relationships between different parameters. Among the morphological structures studied, the basicranium, in particular the characters of the ear, have very often been considered in a phylogenetic perspective. Since the development of new acquisition techniques such as micro-tomography (μCT), new data are available. Thus, the interest for the morphology of the inner and middle ear, hitherto difficult to access, is growing. The structures of the ear are recognized to have a functional role, both for locomotion, in balance, and for hearing, through auditory sensitivities. Concerning this second function, there is a great variability between the different primate species, suggesting a relation with the socio-ecological parameters. The aim of this thesis was to quantify and understand the morphological variation of the auditory system in primates. The first step consisted in characterizing the morphological structures of the ear and their variations, in order to obtain quantified parameters and to relate them to auditory parameters. The second step was to identify covariations between the morphological structures of the ear and the different biotic and abiotic factors, defining the species in their environment. From these covariations, the third step was to propose prediction models for fossil species, for which only the morphology is available. Finally, the last step of this study was to estimate the correlations between the auditory sensitivities, the frequencies emitted during the vocalisations and the morphological characteristics related to the oral communication. A first result of this work, carried out on a macro-evolutionary scale, allowed us to characterize in 3 dimensions the internal structures of the ear, to quantify the variation within the order, and to highlight a new variable: the degree of pneumatisation. This quantification of pneumatisation, on a large taxonomic scale, shows that the shape diversity of the ear cavities is largely explained by the effect of body mass and phylogeny. Beyond this relationship, a strong pneumatization seems linked to a good perception of the low frequencies, which can be related to a type of habitat and a lifestyle. The second step allowed us to demonstrate a covariation between morphological variables describing ear structures and ecological variables describing life history traits and habitat. A predictive model could thus be established from these covariations based on current species and applied to a fossil species. Thus, Adapis parisiensis, an Eocene fossil primate, could be described as a folivorous and frugivorous, diurnal species, living in humid tropical forests, in a small to medium size group (up to 20 individuals), and was probably monogamous. These results confirm those of previous studies and also make it possible to propose original reconstructions, especially for behavior. Finally, the morphology of the ear, reflecting the auditory sensitivities, but also other cranial characters, indicate correlations with the vocal repertoire. Although these results are more prospective, they nevertheless allow to propose a type of communication for fossil species. This work has shown that ear morphology was a good proxy to reflect the relationships between species with their environments.
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Margot Bernardi. L’audition chez les primates : entre forme, fonction, écologie et comportement. Paléontologie. Université Paris sciences et lettres, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019PSLEP034⟩. ⟨tel-02637234⟩

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