A Mammalian Lost World in Southwest Europe during the Late Pliocene
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AuthorArribas Herrera, Alfonso; Garrido, Guiomar; Viseras Alarcón, César; Soria Mingorance, Jesús M.; Pla Pueyo, Sila; Solano, José G.; Garcés, Miguel; Beamud, Elisabeth; Carrión, José S.
Public Library of Science (PLOS)
FossilsMammalsPaleobiologyPaleoecologyPaleogeographyPaleozoologyPliocene epochSpecies delimitation
Arribas, A.; et al. A Mammalian Lost World in Southwest Europe during the Late Pliocene. Plos One, 4(9): e7127 (2009). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/31144]
SponsorshipThis research is supported by different scientific projects: SICOAN 2005009 by the IGME (Geological Survey of Spain, Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovacion of Spain), research Project of the Consejeria de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucia of Spain, research Project CGL2005-06224/BTE (MEC-FEDER) and working group RMN 163 of the Junta de Andalucia.
[Background] Over the last decades, there has been an increasing interest on the chronology, distribution and mammal taxonomy (including hominins) related with the faunal turnovers that took place around the Pliocene-Pleistocene transition [ca. 1.8 mega-annum (Ma)] in Europe. However, these turnovers are not fully understood due to: the precarious nature of the period's fossil record; the “non-coexistence” in this record of many of the species involved; and the enormous geographical area encompassed. This palaeontological information gap can now be in part bridged with data from the Fonelas P-1 site (Granada, Spain), whose faunal composition and late Upper Pliocene date shed light on some of the problems concerning the timing and geography of the dispersals. [Methodology/Principal Findings] This rich fossil site yielded 32 species of mammals, among which autochthonous species of the European Upper Villafranchian coexist with canids (Canis), ovibovines (Praeovibos) and giraffids (Mitilanotherium) from Asia. Typical African species, such as the brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea) and the bush pig (Potamochoerus) are also present. [Conclusions/Significance] This assemblage is taxonomically and palaeobiogeographically unique, and suggests that fewer dispersal events than was previously thought (possibly only one close to 2.0 Ma) are responsible for the changes seen around 1.9–1.7 Ma ago in the fauna of the two continents.