Bollettino SPI Vol. 51 - Issues 1, 2, 3

Issue 1

Published in September 2012

  • Rook L. & Alba D.M. (2012)

The pioneering paleoprimatologist Charles Immanuel Forsyth Major (1843-1923), and a Mesopithecus tooth from an unrecorded locality of Italy (?Casino Basin) in the Basel Naturhistorisches Museum, Switzerland
pp. 1-6


C.I. Forsyth Major was a pioneer of paleoprimatology as well as an extremely active field paleontologist. He collected a large quantity of fossil mammal remains of Neogene and Quaternary age during his fieldwork in Italy. A previously unpublished lower fourth premolar of Mesopithecus from the Forsyth Major collections housed in the Basel Naturhistorisches Museum is described and illustrated herein. Although the locality was not recorded, the specimen is considered as being from the Casino Basin (Tuscany, Italy). The specimen is attributed to the Late Miocene species Mesopithecus pentelicus on the basis of morphological characters such as dental size and proportions. Although significant statistical differences have been noted compared with the Pliocene species, Mesopithecus monspessulanus, based only on the single element presented here, a clear cut distinction between the two species is not observed.

  • D’Orazi Porchetti S., Manni R. & Sottili G.  (2012)

A salamandrid from the middle Pleistocene of northern Latium (Fosso di San Martino, Rome, Italy)
pp. 7-13


An almost complete salamandrid specimen has recently been discovered from diatomite deposits in the Sabatini Volcanic District, at the Fosso di San Martino locality, about 45 km north of Rome (Rignano Flamino, Latium, central Italy). The age of the fossil- bearing level is constrained between 488±2 and 457±4 ka based on the presence of well-dated volcanic ash layers at the top and at the bed of the diatomite level where the specimen was embedded. The fossil record of Caudata from the Pleistocene of central Italy is scarce, and this new find adds important data on the presence of the taxon in this area. The specimen, although comprised of a fairly complete and articulated skeleton, shows a sub-optimal preservation of single bony elements, to such an extent that a definite taxonomic assignment is not feasible. Moreover, it probably represents a juvenile individual in somatic terms at the time of the death. The specimen is tentatively referred to Triturus sp.

  • Sardella R. & IurIno D.A. (2012)

The latest Early Pleistocene sabertoothed cat Homotherium (Felidae, Mammalia) from Monte Peglia (Umbria, central Italy)
pp. 15-22


The latest Early Pleistocene karst infill deposits outcropping at Monte Peglia (Umbria, central Italy) have been the focus of a variety of field expeditions by researchers from the “Istituto Italiano di Paleontologia Umana” during the period from 1955 to 1968. These studies have led to the discovery of two distinct vertebrate assemblages considered as being similar in age. In 1955 large vertebrate remains were found and, in particular, many isolated teeth were collected that are referable to a single specimen of the saber-toothed cat Homotherium. The taxonomy of Homotherium, mainly based on cranio-dental features, is still controversial and the diverse interpretations are due essentially to the rarity of complete fossil specimens and the high variability of these records. Herein the specimen from Monte Peglia is referred to Homotherium latidens (Owen) and its affinities with the late Villafranchian and Galerian specimens from Eurasia are discussed.

  • Monaco P., Trecci T. & Uchman A. (2012)

Taphonomy and ichnofabric of the trace fossil Avetoichnus luisae Uchman & Rattazzi, 2011 in Paleogene deep-sea fine-grained turbidites: examples from Italy, Poland and Spain
pp. 23-38


The poorly known, helical spiral trace fossil Avetoichnus luisae Uchman & Rattazzi, 2011 has been investigated in fine-grained Paleogene turbidites in Italy, Poland and Spain. It shows a typical stratinomic preservation as endichnia and was developed in turbiditic mud and bioclastic deposits occupying the upper intervals (typically E3-F) of turbidite sequences. Other ichnotaxa occur in deeper levels (e.g., Alcyonidiopsis and Zoophycos in the Trasimeno area), while tree-like forms (e.g., Chondrites intricatusC. targionii and Cladichnus in the same area), string-like forms (e.g., Planolites or Palaeophycus) and other undetermined burrows are usually found in shallower levels. The distribution of the ichnotaxa indicates an upwards increasing ichnodensity towards the higher intervals in many mud-bioclastic turbidite sequences. Detailed taphonomic analysis of 104 specimens of frequently branched Avetoichnus luisae has shown that a high degree of variation can be observed in their length, general shape, maximum diameter, maximum width of dots, shape of dots, dot distribution, spiral arrangement, central part (axis) and raised edges. These variations suggest that an unknown organism adjusted its activity (agrichnial or fodinichnial) using different strategies in accordance with changes in the turbiditic environment.

  • Bernon R.L., Boaz N.T. & Rook L. (2012)

Eurygnathohippus feibeli (Perissodactyla: Mammalia) from the Late Miocene of As Sahabi (Libya) and its Evolutionary and Biogeographic Significance
pp. 39-48


The discovery of a new hipparionine metacarpal III in 2010 has led to the recognition of the occurrence of the East African species Eurygnathohippus feibeli at Sahabi. Specimens of metacarpal III and metatarsal III previously referred to cf. Hipparion s.s. are reassigned herein to Eurygnathohippus feibeli. The occurrence of an East African hipparionine horse at Sahabi is congruent with findings of other Late Miocene ungulates and strengthens the biogeographic connections between the Sahabi and the Ethiopian Middle Awash and Kenyan Lothagam faunas. Taking into consideration the known biogeographic connections to eastern Mediterranean - Southwest Asia faunas, the Sahabi findings constitute a crucial crossroads fauna between Eurasia and Africa and reflect the maximum extension of Old World Pikermian faunas in the Late Miocene.

  • Aiello G., Barra D., De Pippo T. & Donadio C. (2012)

Pleistocene Foraminiferida and Ostracoda from the Island of Procida (Bay of Naples, Italy)
pp. 49-62


Upper Pleistocene fossiliferous sands located in the north-western area of the Island of Procida at 2.5m above sea level yield assemblages of benthic foraminifers and ostracods. The deposit occurs between the trachytic lava breccias of the Breccia Museo Formation, as a member of the Campanian Ignimbrite (~39.000 ka b.p.), and the pyroclastic deposits of Solchiaro (~ 22.000 ka b.p.). Detailed study of the assemblages has contributed in the reconstruction of the main morpho-evolutionary and palaeoenvironmental phases of this area in the Late Quaternary. The most abundant taxa are the foraminifers Ammonia beccarii and Elphidium crispum, and the ostracods Pontocythere turbidaCytheridea neapolitana and Semicytherura incongruens. In spite of the ecological preferences of these species, commonly recorded in infralittoral waters, analysis of the entire assemblage indicates an infralittoral/circalittoral palaeoenvironment of 60-30 m below sea level (probably at about 40 m b.s.l.), a silty-sandy substrate and coastal detritic bottom biocoenoses. Preservation of calcareous microfossils is generally poor, probably due to dissolution caused by slightly acidic waters. A low pH palaeoenvironment may also explain the absence of miliolids as well as thin-shelled ostracods. These features are typical of waters affected by volcanic activity, such as carbon dioxide submarine vents.

  • Avanzini M. & Wachtler M. (2012)

Sphingopus ladinicus isp. nov. from the Anisian of the Braies Dolomites (Southern Alps, Italy)
pp. 63-70


A new ichnotaxon, Sphingopus ladinicus isp. nov., is described from the Middle Triassic (Anisian-Illyrian) of Piz da Peres in the Braies Dolomites (Italy). The morphology of the footprints is related to the enigmatic group of Parachirotheriidae. S. ladinicus isp. nov. shows pentadactyl, narrow pedal tracks occasionally associated with small manus imprints (suggesting a possible facultative bipedal trackmaker). Pedal digit group II-IV shows little divarication (max 15°); the digit proportions are III>IV>II with the metatarsal-phalangeal articulation forming a compact group. Tracks show a clear tendency towards digitigrady with a functionally three-toed pes. These characters are interpreted as possible synapomorphies of basal dinosaurs.

Issue 2

Published in June 2012

  • Scanu G.G., Kustatscher E. & Pittau P. (2012)

The Jurassic plant fossils of the Lovisato Collection: preliminary notes
pp. 71-84


A preliminary account is presented herein of the revision of 473 slabs containing macrofossil plant remains from the Domenico Lovisato plant Collection. The latter is housed in the Museo Sardo di Geologia e Paleontologia “D. Lovisato” of the Università di Cagliari. The material examined encompasses palaeobotanical remains collected from the Genna Selole Formation and from the basal part of the Dorgali Formation, both of Jurassic age at a variety of localities in Barbagia and Sarcidano, eastern Sardinia. A reconstruction is given of the history of the collection, initiated in 1888, and the scientific studies of the flora by a variety of palaeobotanists. Based on a preliminary revision of the specimens the following genera are recognized: Phlebopteris Brongniart, 1836, Hausmannia Dunker, 1846, Coniopteris Brongniart, 1849, Cladophlebis Brongniart, 1849, Sagenopteris Presl in Sternberg, 1838, Cycadeospermum Saporta, 1875, Ptilophyllum Morris in Grant, 1840, Williamsonia Carruthers, 1870 emend. Harris, 1969, Weltrichia Braun, 1847 emend. Harris, 1969, Taeniopteris Brongniart, 1828, Czekanowskia Heer, 1876 emend. Harris et al., 1974, Brachyphyllum Brongniart, 1828, Elatocladus Halle, 1913 emend. Harris, 1979 and Carpolithes Brongniart, 1822. Some plant remains have been putatively assigned to the following genera: Ptilozamites Nathorst, 1878 emend. Antevs, 1914, Nilssonia Brongniart, 1825, Pterophyllum Brongniart, 1828 and Geinitzia Endlicher, 1847. Several of these genera are known also from the Jurassic flora of Yorkshire and from other Jurassic floras of Italy.

  • Stara P. & Borghi E. (2012)

First fossil record of the genus Faorina (Echinoidea: Pericosmidae)
pp. 85-98


A new species of the genus Faorina Gray, 1851 (Echinoidea, Pericosmidae) from the early Miocene of Sardinia, F. maullui sp. nov., is described. This is the first fossil evidence of Faorina and the first record from the Mediterranean area. The new species differs from the Recent F. chinensis Gray, 1851, so far considered to be the only valid species of the genus, in having a depressed test, with oblique posterior face and thinner margin, a different pathway of the peripetalous fasciole and larger periproct. The diagnostic characters stated in the literature to distinguish Faorina are discussed on the basis of the new material under study, and the meridoplacous structure in the interambulacrum 1 adorally is herein considered to be the only safe feature to distinguish Faorina from the closely related genus Pericosmus L. Agassiz, in L. Agassiz & Desor, 1847. Three species from the Miocene of Italy, originally attributed in the literature to the genus Pericosmus, are transferred into Faorina.

  • Di Martino E. & Taylor P.D. (2012)

Systematics and life history of Antoniettella exigua, a new genus and species of cribrimorph bryozoan from the Miocene of East Kalimantan (Indonesia)
pp. 99-108


A new genus and species of cheilostome bryozoan, Antoniettella exigua gen. et sp. nov., is described from East Kalimantan (Indonesia) in rocks around the Burdigalian-Langhian boundary (Lower-Middle Miocene). Colonies encrust the undersides of platy scleractinian corals that formed patch reefs in turbid shallow waters. Included in the cribrimorph ascophorans, the monospecific genus Antoniettella differs from all existing cribrimorph genera and can be distinguished by a combination of its keyhole-shaped orifice and lack of pelmata, intercostal lacunae and ovicells. Colonies are always small in size, subcircular in outline, thick and usually multilayered, with new layers spreading outwards from the centre of the colony. Ecological categorization of Antoniettella as a ‘spot colony’ is discussed and its life history inferred. A survivorship curve suggests low initial rates of mortality followed by a constant rate of mortality. Colonies appear to have been well adapted to occupy and defend small patches of substrate space, possibly in a low-nutrient microenvironment.

  • Dieni I.  (2012)

“Pompeian” mating molluscs: sexual behaviour frozen by Paleogene submarine volcanic activity in northern Italy
pp. 109-116


A pair of Paleogene nautilid cephalopods (Angulithes hilarionis) composed of dimorphed shells are interpreted as having been buried while mating. A similar behaviour was previously reported for ampullinid gastropods (Dieni, 2008), the specimens being “frozen” when covered suddenly by a mass of sediment, primarily volcanoclastics. The formation of the latter also involved acidification and consequent poisoning and/or overwarming of sea water, causing mass mortality in some cases. As the syntypes of Nautilus hilarionis De Gregorio, 1880 result as being no longer available, a Lutetian neotype from the type area is proposed.

  • Sciuto F.  (2012)

New ostracod species from Lower Pleistocene sediments from Capo Milazzo (NE Sicily)
pp. 117-125


The study presents the findings of four peculiar fossil species of Ostracoda from sandy-silty bathyal sediments of Early Pleistocene age from Punta Messinese (Capo Milazzo Peninsula, NE Sicily). Three species are newly described, Bythocypris antoniettae n. sp., Cytheropteron italoi n. sp. and Cytheropteron rossanae n. sp.; one species is assigned in open nomenclature to the genus Buntonia Howe & Chambers, 1935.

  • Balini M., Jenks J. & Martin R.  (2012)

Taxonomy and stratigraphic significance of Trachyceras silberlingi n. sp., from the Lower Carnian of South Canyon (New Pass Range, central Nevada, USA)
pp. 127-136


New intensive bed-by-bed ammonoid collecting efforts conducted in 2010 and 2011 at South Canyon, the type locality of the lowest Carnian Desatoyense Zone of the North American chronostratigraphic scale, have lead to the recognition of a new species of Trachyceras that is herein described. The new species is dedicated to Norman J. Silberling (1928-2011), who was widely recognized as the leading authority on marine Triassic stratigraphy in western US for over 50 years. T. silberlingi n. sp. is characterized by a peculiar ornamentation consisting of two spiral rows of bullae on the flank (first row on umbilical shoulder and second row at about 70% of whorl height) and by ribs frequently looped in pairs at the lateral bulla. The new species, from South Canyon site F, the stratigraphically highest level of the fossiliferous succession of the middle member of the Augusta Mountain Formation, represents the first definite occurrence of the genus Trachyceras Laube, 1869 in this succession. For this reason T. silberlingi n. sp. is of great importance for the revision of the Desatoyense Zone, a unit defined on the basis of a large collection of ammonoids described in 1941 from the lower part of the middle member of the Augusta Mountain Formation, without regard for the number and position of fossil bearing levels. We herein propose the subdivision and replacement of the former Desatoyense Zone with two biostratigraphic units: the lower unit referred to as the Daxatina beds, is an informal biozone characterized by the occurrence of Daxatina and Frankites sutherlandi, and the overlying Trachyceras silberlingi biozone is a range zone characterized by the occurrence of Trachyceras, based on the new species. The chronostratigraphic potential of this proposed subdivision is briefly outlined, but it will be more accurately defined upon completion of the taxonomic revision of the South Canyon ammonoid faunas.

  • Petrucci M., Romiti S. & Sardella R.  (2012)

The Middle-Late Pleistocene Cuon Hodgson, 1838 (Carnivora, Canidae) from Italy
pp. 137-148


The aim of this work is to review the Middle-Late Pleistocene fossil remains of the genus Cuon Hodgson, 1838 from Italy. The geographical distribution of hypercarnivorous canids belonging to the genus Cuon is presently restricted to Southeastern Asia, whereas during the Pleistocene occurrences are documented in Eurasia and North America. Due to the fragmentary nature of the fossil record of this genus, resolution of many aspects of its origins, phyletic relationships, and evolutionary trends prove difficult. In the Italian Peninsula the occurrence of this canid has been reported from several sites of Middle-Late Pleistocene age. However, the latter have rarely been accompanied by descriptions of the material. This paper presents an update of the Italian record of the genus Cuon, description of the material from these different sites and includes unpublished data related to new localities. It represents a starting point for a broader review of the Mediterranean Plio-Pleistocene hypercarnivorous canids.

  • Ferretti A., Melchin M.J. & Negri A. (2012)

Are there black shales and black shales?
pp. 149-150

Issue 3

Published in December 2012

  • Bannikov A.F. & Carnevale G. (2012)

Frippia labroiformis n. gen. n. sp., a new perciform fish from the Eocene of Pesciara di Bolca, Italy
pp. 155-165


A new genus and species of percoid fish, Frippia labroiformis n. gen. n. sp. from the Eocene of Pesciara di Bolca, northern Italy, is described based on three well-preserved specimens characterized by a moderately elongate body and a short and deep caudal peduncle. Frippia n. gen. exhibits a unique combination of features, including the following: weak pharyngeal apophysis of the parasphenoid; orbit with sclerotic ossifications; jaws with single series of strong conical teeth; slightly curved preopercle with smooth posterior margin; opercle devoid of spines; six branchiostegal rays; blunt and conical lower pharyngeal teeth; 26 (10+16) vertebrae; caudal skeleton with urostylar complex fused to uroneural and third and fourth hypurals, first and second hypurals fused, fifth hypural and parhypural autogenous, three epurals, autogenous haemal spines of second and third preural vertebrae, and low neural crest on second preural vertebra; caudal fin rounded with 17 principal rays and six to seven upper and five to six lower procurrent rays; predorsal formula 0/0/0+2/1+1/; continuous dorsal fin with nine spines and 14 soft rays; anal fin with three strong spines and 10 rays; pectoral fin with 15 rays; pelvic fin with one spine and five long rays, the longest reaching posteriorly to anal-fin origin; scales relatively large, thin and finely ctenoid on trunk and cycloid on head. Because of its unique combination of features Frippia n. gen. cannot be confidently assigned to any of the existing extant or fossil percoid families and it is therefore interpreted herein as incertae sedis within the Percoidei.

  • Benedetti A. & Briguglio A. (2012)

Risananeiza crassaparies n. sp. from the upper Chattian of Porto Badisco (southern Apulia, Italy)
pp. 166-176


A new species of Rotaliidae, Risananeiza crassaparies n. sp., is described from the upper Chattian of the Porto Badisco Calcarenites (Salento Peninsula, Southern Italy). The studied specimens are assigned to the foraminiferal genus Risananeiza based on the presence of vertical canals in both the ventral and dorsal side of the test, and an intraseptal canal system that evolves into marginal sutural canals. The new species differs from the type species of the genus, R. pustulosa, in having a lower chamber lumen, and smaller dimension.

Supplementary Online Material
  • Cherchi A. & Schroeder R. (2012)

The cryptobiotic foraminifer Troglotella? panormitana n. sp. from the Valanginian of Sicily, Italy. Mode of life of the genus Troglotella Wernli & Fookes, 1992
pp. 177-183


The cryptobiotic foraminifer Troglotella incrustans Wernli & Fookes, 1992 from the Upper Tithonian of the Madonie Mountains (Sicily) and Troglotella? panormitana n. sp. from the Valanginian of Monte Pellegrino near Palermo (Sicily) are described. A new interpretation of the mode of life of T. incrustans is presented and compared with previous theories. The embryo settled on the surface of the substrate, bored a tunnel, and after having reached a certain depth bioactivity in a downwards direction ceased. A series of uniserially arranged post-embryonic chambers was then formed in an upwards direction towards the substrate surface. Subsequent to this growth stage, irregular epilithic chambers were formed. However, the possibility that the growth of the test may have sometimes begun at the base of a pre-existing cavity cannot be excluded.

  • Wolf D., Semprebon G.M. & Bernor R.L. (2012)

New observations on the paleodiet of the late Miocene Höwenegg (Hegau, Germany) Hippotherium primigenium (Mammalia, Equidae)
pp. 185-191


The cryptobiotic foraminifer Troglotella incrustans Wernli & Fookes, 1992 from the Upper Tithonian of the Madonie Mountains (Sicily) and Troglotella? panormitana n. sp. from the Valanginian of Monte Pellegrino near Palermo (Sicily) are described. A new interpretation of the mode of life of T. incrustans is presented and compared with previous theories. The embryo settled on the surface of the substrate, bored a tunnel, and after having reached a certain depth bioactivity in a downwards direction ceased. A series of uniserially arranged post-embryonic chambers was then formed in an upwards direction towards the substrate surface. Subsequent to this growth stage, irregular epilithic chambers were formed. However, the possibility that the growth of the test may have sometimes begun at the base of a pre-existing cavity cannot be excluded.

  • Martínez-Pérez C. & Valenzuela-Ríos J.I. (2012)

Polygnathids (Conodonta) around the lower/upper Emsian boundary from the La Guardia d’Àres section (Lower Devonian, Spanish Central Pyrenees)
pp. 193-202


Study of the La Guardia d’Àres section from the Spanish Central Pyrenees has yielded significant conodont faunas relevant for the subdivision of the Emsian stage. Four Polygnathus species are described and discussed: P. laticostatusP. gilbertiP. linguiformis bultyncki and P. vigierei. The latter three are cited for the first time from the Spanish Central Pyrenees. The new conodont record includes two of the three conodont index taxa proposed for the identification of the lower Emsian/upper Emsian boundary (P. laticostatus and P. gilberti). Consequently, they may prove useful for the future decision on the position of this boundary by the Subcommission on Devonian Stratigraphy. These data allow a precise placement of the boundary in the Spanish Central Pyrenees.

  • Lombardo C. Tintori A. & Tona D. (2012)

A new species of Sangiorgioichthys (Actinopterygii, Semionotiformes) from the Kalkschieferzone of Monte San Giorgio (Middle Triassic; Meride, Canton Ticino, Switzerland)
pp. 203-212


The genus Sangiorgioichthys is one of the few Semionotidae known from the Middle Triassic. The type species S. aldae Tintori & Lombardo, 2007 has been found in Late Ladinian marine deposits of both the Italian and Swiss sides of Monte San Giorgio. A second species, S. sui López-Arbarello et al., 2011 described from the Pelsonian (Middle Anisian) of Luoping (Yunnan, South China) has extended the range of the genus both in time and space. A further species of SangiorgioichthysSangiorgioichthys valmarensis n. sp., is described herein from the Late Ladinian Kalkschieferzone (Meride Limestone) of the Monte San Giorgio area, the same unit yielding the type species. Sangiorgioichthys valmarensis n. sp. differs from the already known species in number and arrangement of suborbitals, shape of the teeth and in shape and row number of the scales. The new species of Sangiorgioichthys increases the diversity of Semionotidae already in the Middle Triassic, indicating that the explosive radiation of Semionotidae during the Norian was preceded by a first phase of diversification during the Middle Triassic.