A new late pleistocene vertebrate faunal complex from Sicily (S. Teodoro Cave, North-Eastern Sicily, Italy)

Federico Masini, Marra, Laura Bonfiglio, Federico Masini, Gabriella Mangano

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Abstract

Previous excavations at the S. Teodoro Cave were carried on mainly in the upper unit, Late Glacial in age, containing late Upper Palaeolithic stone artefacts and no endemic mammals remains belonging to the Castello Faunal complex, the youngest of the Pleistocene Sicilian faunal complexes. This unit overlies an older deposit of clay and sands which contain Pleistocene endemic mammal remains. During 1998 excavations a maximum depth of m 1.50 over an area of about 12 sq. m has been exploited. Scarce evidences of the Late Glacial have been encountered during excavations. The investigated lower unit (unit B) is made of clayey sands and gravels containing a highly diversified assemblage of vertebrates (elephant, horse, wild ox, deer, wild boar, hyena, fox, mouse, ground vole, shrew, hedgehog, bats, birds, reptiles) invertebrates (molluscs). and vegetal remains. Damages on bones and abundant coprolites testify an intense hyena activity. The collected data allow us to bring new refinements to the scheme of the Pleistocene vertebrate complexes of Sicily. The association of the elephant (Elephas mnaidriensis) with the equid (Equus hydruntinus), which were previously thought to represent the typical taxa of two different faunal complexes (the endemic Elephas mnaidriensis faunal complex and the younger, not endemic, Castello faunal complex), evidence a longer survival of the elephant in Sicily and a dispersal event of the Equus hydruntinus in the island older than so far known. The assemblage of small mammals is completely renewed respect to that of the E. mnaidriensis faunal complex, and includes not endemic taxa such as Microtus (Terricola) ex gr. savii, Apodemus, Erinaceus and Crocidura cf. sicula. A similar micromammal assemblage occurs in the fauna of the Castello faunal complex as well as in two recently described sites in Sicily (Contrada Pianetti and K22 - upper levels) which contain a faunal assemblage similar to that of the S. Teodoro Cave. The S. Teodoro cave assemblage confirms the existence of a new faunal complex in the Pleistocene of Sicily which contain some endemic taxa surviving from the Elephas mnaidriensis faunal complex associated with not endemic taxa.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)149-158
Numero di pagine10
RivistaBOLLETTINO DELLA SOCIETÀ PALEONTOLOGICA ITALIANA
Volume40
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2001

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Palaeontology

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