Bollettino SPI Vol. 52 - Issues 1, 2, 3

Issue 1

Published in June 2013

  • Rosso A. & Sanfilippo R. (2013)

XII Giornate di Paleontologia, 24-26 Maggio 2012. Introduction
pp.  i-ii


The present issue is the first of two issues of the Bollettino della Società Paleontologica Italiana devoted to the publication of part of the scientific contributions presented during the “Palaeodays 2012” Congress. The annual meeting of the Society was held at the Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche e Ambientali of the Università di Catania, from 24th to 26th of May 2012.

  • Buosi C., Cherchi A., Ibba A., Marras B., Marrucci A. & Schintu M. (2013)

Benthic foraminiferal assemblages and sedimentological characterisation of the coastal system of the Cagliari area (southern Sardinia, Italy)
pp. 1-9


A survey of the coastal environment of Cagliari Harbour and the surrounding areas (southern Sardinia, Italy) has made it possible to study living benthic foraminiferal assemblages from 15 superficial sediments from the coastal system of the Gulf of Cagliari. This allowed a comparison of the distribution of recent living benthic foraminifera with sedimentological parameters to be done. Foraminiferal density and species’ richness are variable across the study area. The living assemblages are characterised by low diversity in the harbour and in the Santa Gilla Lagoon. In total, 95 different species were recognized, 18 of which being epiphytic, prefer an attached lifestyle, 54 are epifaunal and 23 infaunal. Epifaunal and epiphytic species such as Peneroplis pertusus (Forskal, 1775), Rosalina bradyi (Cushman, 1915) and Lobatula lobatula (Walker & Jacob, 1798) are the main constituents of the living foraminiferal assemblages in the sandy sediment far from the harbour area and are associated with Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, 1813 seagrass. The low biodiversity values registered in some samples from this area can be related to the anthropogenic discharge of pollutants and fluctuating environmental parameters. Historical benthic foraminiferal assemblages from Cagliari Harbour, determined by H.B. Brady and published by Wright in 1871, have been reported for their historical value.

  • Cherin M., Berté D.F., Sardella R. & Rook L. (2013)

Canis etruscus (Canidae, Mammalia) and its role in the faunal assemblage from Pantalla (Perugia, central Italy): comparison with the Late Villafranchian large carnivore guild of Italy


A very rich faunal assemblage referred to the early Late Villafranchian (Olivola/Tasso Faunal Unit) has been found at the Early Pleistocene site of Pantalla (Perugia, central Italy). The assemblage contains a number of carnivores, including several specimens of the Etruscan wolf Canis etruscus Forsyth Major, 1877. Canis etruscus appeared in Europe about 2 Ma. This species is regarded as an important taxon for biochronology: its first occurrence (the so-called “wolf event”) has been used to define one of the Villafranchian faunal turnovers. The Late Villafranchian assemblage from Pantalla provides valuable information about the Early Pleistocene carnivore guild in Italy. Together with the Etruscan wolf (probably a cooperative species hunting in packs) and Vulpes sp., the Pantalla faunal assemblage also records the occurrence of two felids, Lynx issiodorensis (Croizet & Jobert, 1828) and the giant cheetah Acinonyx pardinensis (Croizet & Jobert, 1828). Despite the excellent preservation and richness of fossils discovered, the Pantalla fauna seems to lack some important elements of the Late Villafranchian carnivore paleoguild, possibly reflecting a reduced biomass and/or diversity of preys in respect to other Italian sites.

  • Chiarenza A.A., Dalla Vecchia F.M., Rosso A. & Sanfilippo R. (2013)

The Early Jurassic ichthyosaur Stenopterygius in the collections of the Museo di Scienze della Terra, Università di Catania (Italy)


The “Bonaventura Gravina” Collection of the Earth Science Museum of Catania (Italy) includes an ichthyosaur specimen of unknown geographic and stratigraphic provenance, age, and taxonomic determination. On comparison with other fossils from the same collection it was established that the specimen is from Böll, southwestern Germany; the ammonites preserved on the same slab indicate an early Toarcian age. Based on the available information it is suggested that it comes from the Early Jurassic Posidonia Shale (Posidonienschiefer), which is known worldwide for its ichthyosaur remains. A morphological comparison with Toarcian ichthyosaurs allowed the fossil remains to be referred to an adult specimen of Stenopterygius, a mid-sized ichthyosaur genus common in the Toarcian of Southern Germany. The phylogenetic analysis by parsimony supports this conclusion.

  • Colombero S. & Pavia G. (2013)

Centralomys benericettii (De Giuli, 1989) (Mammalia, Rodentia): a latest Messinian murid from Northern and Central Italy. New data from Piedmont


New remains of the small-sized stephanodont murid Centralomys benericettii (De Giuli, 1989), a Late Miocene form exclusively found in Italy, were recently collected in the post-evaporitic deposits of the Tertiary Piedmont Basin (Piedmont, NW Italy) in two new localities of latest Messinian age: Moncucco Torinese and Verduno. These data considerably enlarge the knowledge of this species, formerly documented only by the late Messinian record from Monticino gypsum quarry (Brisighella, Emilia Romagna, Central Italy) and from very sparse remains from Borro Strolla (Tuscany, Central Italy) and Ciabòt Cagna (Piedmont, Northern Italy) at the Mio-Pliocene limit. The recently recovered remains of C. benericettii from Piedmont are described herein in order to better define the spectrum of variation of this poorly known form. The morphological differences between the populations of C. benericettii from Moncucco Torinese and Verduno can be related to palaeoenvironmental differences, even if further evidence is required to confirm this hypothesis.

  • Buosi C., Cherchi A., Ibba A., Marras B., Marrucci A. & Schintu M. (2013)

Preliminary data on benthic foraminiferal assemblages and sedimentological characterisation from some polluted and unpolluted coastal areas of Sardinia (Italy)


The relationship between living benthic foraminiferal faunas and the grain-size distribution of surface sediments was studied in three Sardinian coastal areas: a) the shallow inner shelf between Portoscuso and S. Pietro and the S. Antioco islands; b) the Porto Torres harbour; and c) the La Maddalena Archipelago. This investigation forms part of the research project “EU MOMAR”. Benthic foraminifera were identified in 17 samples collected from the three analysed areas. Biotic parameters (Species’ Richness, Foraminiferal Density and the Fisher-α index) were calculated to quantify the foraminiferal assemblages within the context of environmental parameters. Grain-size analyses were performed to verify the granulometric nature of the bottom sediments. On the basis of the data obtained, the spatial distribution of the foraminiferal assemblages has allowed highly to less stressed environments to be distinguished and the ecological quality status to be evaluated. The most abundant taxa are Quinqueloculina ungeriana d ́Orbigny, 1846, Peneroplis pertusus (Forskal, 1775) and Ammonia tepida (Cushman, 1926) from the Portoscuso samples, P. pertususQuinqueloculina seminula (Linnaeus, 1758) and Q. laevigata d ́Orbigny, 1839 from the Porto Torres samples and P. pertususBolivina spathulata (Williamson, 1858) and Bolivina striatula Cushman, 1922 from the La Maddalena samples. Among these dominant species, Ammonia tepida and bolivinids appear to show tolerance to environmental disturbance and are therefore particularly suitable as bio-indicators in coastal areas. The sampling sites characterised by better environmental conditions present an epiphytic biocoenosis with Lobatula lobatula (Walker & Jacob, 1798), Planorbulina mediterranensis d’Orbigny, 1826, Elphidium crispum (Linnaeus, 1758) and peneroplids. Correlations are still ongoing between sedimentological features, benthic foraminiferal assemblages and chemical data from these sampled areas, with a view to understanding the environmental anthropogenic impact on coastal systems.

  • Violanti D., Lozar F., Natalicchio M., Dela Pierre F., Bernardi E., Clari P. & Cavagna S. (2013)

Stress-tolerant microfossils of a Messinian succession from the Northern Mediterranean basin (Pollenzo section, Piedmont, northwestern Italy)


High resolution quantitative data on calcareous nannofossil and foraminifer assemblages of the upper part of the Pollenzo section (Alba, Piedmont, northwestern Italy) are discussed in order to investigate the palaeoenvironmental evolution within the time interval immediately preceding the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC) and coeval to its onset. The studied succession, measuring approximately 24 m in thickness, consists of the seven uppermost cycles (Pm1-Pm7) of the Sant’Agata Fossili Marls. The latter are characterized by euxinic shale/ marl couplets that include a distinct carbonate-rich bed. Cyclical, orbitally controlled, fluctuations of warm/oligotrophic and temperate/ mesotrophic conditions are documented in the lower cycles Pm1-Pm4 on the basis of opposite abundances of planktonic microfossils. An increasingly stressed palaeoenvironment is recorded from cycle Pm5 upward by the higher abundance of stress tolerant taxa among the calcareous nannofossils (Reticulofenestra spp., Sphenolithus abiesHelicosphaera carteriUmbilicosphaera rotula, and Rhabdosphaera procera), planktonic (Turborotalita quinqueloba) and benthic foraminifers (Bolivina spp., Bulimina echinata, and Cassidulina crassa). These data support the onset of the MSC within the time interval of the deposition of cycle Pm5. Small size planktonic foraminifers survived up to the lower part of cycle Pm7 while the more resistant calcareous nannofossils survive up to the upper part of cycle Pm7, positioned a few metres below the first gypsum bed (cycle Pg1). Micropalaeontological events (last peaks of Turborotalita multiloba and Orbulina universa, peak of S. abies) allow correlation of the lower Pm1-Pm4 cycles of the Pollenzo section with the upper cycles of the pre-evaporitic Mediterranean succession.

  • Marchetti L., Bernardi M. & Avanzini M. (2013)

Some insights on well-preserved Amphisauropus and Erpetopus trackways from the Eastern Collio Basin (Trentino-Alto Adige, NE Italy)


The finding of new tetrapod trackways from the eastern sectors of the Collio Basin, in Val Aperta (Trentino Alto-Adige) allows new interpretations on Early Permian tetrapod behavior. The footprints, recorded in a slab with a wavy surface produced by ripples, consist of a short but well-preserved trackway attributable to Amphisauropus kablikae (Geinitz & Deichmüller, 1882) and two parallel trackways, moving in the same direction, assigned to Erpetopus willistoni Moodie, 1929. A narrower trackway, of uncertain taxonomic affinity, was probably produced in subaqueous conditions. This kind of association is the first report from all the Trentino-Alto Adige region, pointing to environments with higher energies than those associated to the classic Collio Formation.

  • Guido A., Mastrandrea A. & Russo F. (2013)

Biotic vs abiotic carbonates: characterisation of the fossil organic matter with Fourier-Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Spectroscopy


The investigated carbonates, belonging to the Messinian “Calcare di Base” Formation, crop out in northern Calabria. The organic matter preserved in these problematic carbonates has been characterised through Fourier-Transform Infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy. This methodology allowed the origin and thermal maturity of organic matter in these sediments to be recognized. The discrimination between biotic and abiotic material requires the support of other techniques, such as optical and Scanning Electron Microscopy and Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry spectroscopy. Carbonates, which are strictly connected with biological activity on the Earth and have been discovered also in the Nili Fossae region of Mars, could provide evidence of ancient life on the Red Planet. In the next space missions to Mars, this procedure is not applicable in situ for the analytical composite method required, therefore it is necessary to return suitable Martian rocks to Earth.

Issue 2

Published in September 2013

  • Naldi F., della Bella G. & Scarponi D. (2013)

Bela pseudoappeliusi n. sp. (Neogastropoda: Mangeliidae) from the Plio-Pleistocene of Italy
pp. 71-79


A new species of mangeliid, Bela pseudoappeliusi (Neogastropoda, Conoidea), is described from the Plio-Pleistocene of Italy. The systematic description is based on a series of eleven specimens selected from the numerous findings in northern and central Italy (Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Lazio). The new species shows affinities to Bela (s.l.) appeliusi (Bellardi, 1877) with regard to particular features such as shell dimension, teleoconch sculpture and aperture morphology. The study includes a detailed survey of the type locality as well as a brief account of occurrences at other localities.

  • Gale L., Rettori R., Martini R. & Rožič B. (2013)

Decapoalina n. gen. (Miliolata, Milioliporidae; Late Triassic), a new foraminiferal genus for “Sigmoilina” schaeferae Zaninetti, Altiner, Dager & Ducret, 1982
pp. 81-93


The wall of the type specimens of “Sigmoilina” schaeferae Zaninetti, Altiner, Dager & Ducret, 1982, described from thin sections of the Norian-Rhaetian reef limestone of the Taurus Mountains (Turkey), originally interpreted to be porcelaneous imperforate, is micritized. In this study, the presence of coarse pseudopores is demonstrated in the specimens collected from the Rhaetian Dachstein-type reef limestone of Mt. Begunjščica (southern Karavanke Mts, northern Slovenia) and the new genus Decapoalina Gale, Rettori & Martini, is established to comprise this particular species.

  • Rook L. & Bernor R.L. (2013)

Hippotherium malpassii (Equidae, Mammalia) from the latest Miocene (late Messinian; MN13) of Monticino gypsum quarry (Brisighella, Emilia-Romagna, Italy)
pp. 95-102


We describe the Hippotherium record from the latest Miocene (MN13) vertebrate faunal assemblage of the Monticino gypsum quarry (also known as Brisighella). This small sample would appear to be attributable to a single species of hipparionine horse. The referral to the recently described species Hippotherium malpassii Bernor, Kaiser, Nelson & Rook, 2011 would appear to be the best one possible. The Monticino gypsum quarry specimens correspond to the size of Hippotherium malpassii and show a suite of morphological features that allow their specific attribution. Formal description of the Brisighella hipparion specimens augments the previous knowledge of the Monticino gypsum quarry vertebrate fauna, one of the best-known latest Messinian fossil assemblages of continental Europe.

  • Cherin M., Iurino D.A. & Sardela R. (2013)

New well-preserved material of Lynx issiodorensis valdarnensis (Felidae, Mammalia) from the Early Pleistocene of Pantalla (central Italy)
pp. 103-111


The rich mammal assemblage from Pantalla (Perugia, central Italy) represents an open window on the central Italy ecosystems during the early Late Villafranchian. The assemblage can be referred to the Olivola/Tasso Faunal Units and includes several cranial and postcranial remains of large herbivore and carnivore mammals in very good state of preservation. The fossil lynx from Pantalla is represented by a complete cranium, a right hemimandible, and a left calcaneus. The specimen can be referred to Lynx issiodorensis valdarnensis Werdelin, 1981, in accordance with the early Late Villafranchian biochronology of the mammal assemblage. The material from Pantalla is the best preserved record of this subspecies in Italy, thus providing new, valuable morphologic and morphometric information on Early Pleistocene lynxes and, in general, on their evolutionary history.

  • Rodríguez-Cañero R., Navas-Parejo P., Somma R., Martin-Algarra A. & Perrone V. (2013)

First finding of upper Silurian and Lower Devonian conodonts from the Peloritani Mountains (NE Sicily, southern Italy)
pp. 113-121


In the Peloritani Mountains (NE Sicily), the Favoscuro west section (near Pizzo Leo, between Floresta and Roccella Valdemone, Messina Province) cross-cuts the Variscan basement of the Longi-Taormina Unit. This section, in the less deformed part, shows a mildly metamorphosed continuous 50-m-thick Palaeozoic succession of metamarls and calc-schists with a bed of nodular metalimestones occurring at the base and of calc-schists at the top. The basal bed yielded a conodont fauna consisting of several fragments of Pa elements of Ancoradella cf. A. ploeckensis Walliser, 1964 (Ludlow, Ancoradella ploeckensis - Polygnathoides siluricus zones). The topmost bed yielded one fragment of a Pa element of Polygnatus cf. P. kitabicus Yolkin, Weddige, Izokh & Erina, 1994 (early Emsian, Polygnathus kitabicus - Polygnathus excavatus zones). This conodont fauna, although not well preserved due to greenschist facies metamorphism and deformation, for the first time enables the recognition of upper Silurian and Lower Devonian rocks in the Peloritani Mountains. The Favoscuro west section studied herein is of important stratigraphic significance as it encompasses the Silurian Devonian boundary.

  • Dieni I., Massari F. & Radulović V. (2013)

The Mt Perda Liana section (Middle Jurassic, central-eastern Sardinia): revised stratigraphy and brachiopod faunas
pp. 123-138


The Jurassic in age stratigraphic section of Mt Perda Liana, the classic locality of the “Tacchi” area (central-eastern Sardinia), has been studied from a stratigraphic and palaeontologic viewpoint. A rich fauna is contained in a limestone interval comprised between the siliciclastic deposits of the Genna Selole Formation (Bajocian-lowermost Bathonian) and the typical dolostones of the Dorgali Formation. This limestone interval, also present in other localities of the “Tacchi” area, is here formally distinguished as member of the Dorgali Fm. (Perda Liana Member) due to its peculiar lithology and faunal content. It mainly consists of shelf-lagoonal micritic limestones, particularly rich in infaunal bivalves. The presence of the brachiopods Kallirhynchia oranensis (Flamand, 1911) and Holcothyris angulata Buckman, 1918, allows the attribution of the Perda Liana Member to the Lower Bathonian.

  • Cavalazzi B. (2013)

Global to nano-scale relevance of Ca-carbonate biosignatures
pp. 139-140

  • Soldan D.M. & Petrizzo M.R. (2013)

A new planktonic foraminifera species (Igorina isabellae n. sp.) from the late Paleocene of the Pacific Ocean
pp. 141-143

Issue 3

Published in December 2013

  • Iurino D.A., Danti M., Della Sala S.W. & Sardella R. (2013)

Modern techniques for ancient bones: Vertebrate Palaeontology and medical CT analysis
pp. 145-155


In recent years, the application of three dimensional tomographic images in vertebrate palaeontology has contributed to improve and greatly expand the range of information derived from the study of fossilized bones. By using computed tomography (CT) scan and medical software it is possible to procure precise measurements, analyses of the internal structures and the material density gradient, carry out virtual restoration, with bones and teeth separated from lithological matrix, produce virtual casts of cavities (frontal sinuses, brains, inner ear) and hence provide greater defi nition in the search for diagnostic elements. It is therefore possible to obtain important information from the virtual models, that otherwise could not be acquired using conventional investigation techniques. Due to the versatility of these technologies, application of this kind of analysis is becoming crucial in many sectors of vertebrate palaeontology, especially in palaeoneurology, palaeopathology and in 3D reconstructions.

  • Pavia M. & Insacco G. (2013)

The fossil bird associations from the early Middle Pleistocene of the Ragusa province (SE Sicily, Italy)
pp. 157-165


An analysis of fossil bird remains from early Middle Pleistocene deposits of the Ragusa province is presented herein. The findings occur in the limnic deposits of the Comiso area and in some fissure fillings of the suburbs of Ragusa, in particular Contrada Annunziata and Contrada Tabuna. The fossil bird bones were associated in all the deposits with remains of endemic mammals of the early Middle Pleistocene “Elephas falconeri Faunal Complex” of the Sicilian biochronological scheme. This study reveals the presence of at least thirty taxa, three are extinct and endemic to Sicily and Malta: Cygnus equitum Bate, 1916, Grus melitensis Lydekker, 1890 and a possible new taxon of Corvidae. The bird taxa found at Comiso and Ragusa allow a palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of the area to be put forward and provide important information with regard to the palaeobiogeography and early evolution of the avifauna from Sicily.

  • Rosso A., Sanfilippo R., Taddei Ruggiero E. & Di Martino E. (2013)

Faunas and ecological groups of Serpuloidea, Bryozoa and Brachiopoda from submarine caves in Sicily (Mediterranean Sea)
pp. 167-176


Serpuloideans, bryozoans and brachiopods, which are among the most representative sessile skeletonised invertebrates in marine caves, are examined herein from four selected submerged marine caves: the Ficarella Cave (NW Sicily, Tyrrhenian Sea), and the Gymnasium, Mazzere and Granchi Caves (SE Sicily, Ionian Sea). A large number of the identified species are already known as typical representatives of cave communities or, at least, have been already found in submarine caves. In order to better understand the composition of these communities, a categorisation of cave species into ecological groups is proposed herein, based mainly on literature data: 1) Cave species; 2) Sciaphilic and/or “coralligenous” species; 3) Deep-water species; 4) Shelf species; 5) Shallow shelf species; 6) Unplaced species. The use of these different ecological groups is proposed as a tool for the analysis and interpretation of thanatocoenoses and fossil communities from caves.

  • Rozzi R. & Palombo M.R. (2013)

The morphology of femur as palaeohabitat predictor in insular bovids
pp. 177-186


A variety of methods have been developed with regard to the use of bovid postcranial elements in the functional morphology approach to palaeohabitat prediction. One postcranial element that has proven useful in past habitat reconstructions is the bovid femur. In this study we applied a biometrical method, combined with an eco-morphological analysis, on Nesogoral (Dehaut, 1911) from Sardinia and Duboisia santeng (Dubois, 1891) from Java. Both are insular fossil bovids of similar size but have originated from different ancestors and are believed to inhabit different environments. Measurements of Sardinian and Javanese specimens were processed in comparison with those of the main extant groups of Bovidae in order to predict the preferred habitat category (Forest, Heavy Cover, Light Cover, Open). A principal component analysis (PCA) was carried out to further investigate the structure of the data. This study highlighted the difficulty of inferring palaeohabitats of fossil bovids from the functional morphology of their long bones. In fossil bovids, the assignment of a taxon to a particular category is a “best fit” designation as a number of taxa could have ranged over several habitat types, as has been documented for most of the extant bovids. Bearing in mind this drawback, results confirm that D. santeng was a forest dweller, while Sardinian bovids belonged to different habitat categories. These findings support in part the hypothesis of an adaptive radiation of the Sardinian bovids of the endemic genus Nesogoral.

  • Carone G., Domning D.P. & Marra A.C. (2013)

New finds of Metaxytherium serresii (Gervais, 1847) (Mammalia: Sirenia) from the Upper Miocene of Monte Poro (Calabria, Italy)
pp. 187-196


We summarize the osteology, update phylogenetic characters and document variability and biometrics of the species Metaxytherium serresii Gervais, 1847 (Sirenia, Dugongidae, Halitheriinae), by providing new diagnostic cranial and postcranial remains from the Miocene of Monte Poro (Vibo Valentia, Calabria, Italy). The new data confirm the marked polymorphism within the genus Metaxytherium, which was already noted. The characters and measurements of the new specimens confirm the reduction in the body size that the species underwent, probably as an ecophenotypic adaptation to changes preceding the Messinian Salinity Crisis of the Mediterranean. The new fossil material, while not differing significantly from the finds already known, demonstrates a broader range of intraspecific morphological variability of the species M. serresii.

  • D’Amico C., Aiello G., Barra D. Bracone V., Di Bella L., Esu D., Frezza V. & Rosskopf R. (2013)

Late Quaternary foraminiferal, molluscan and ostracod assemblages from a core succession in the Trigno River mouth area (Central Adriatic Sea, Italy)
pp. 197-205


The results of palaeontological analyses carried out on foraminifers, molluscs and ostracods from a 15 m thick core (MBS3), drilled offshore in the Trigno River mouth area (northern sector of the Molise Adriatic coast), ca. 200 m from the present coastline, are reported. Four main lithostratigraphic units were recognised in the core. At the bottom, 1.8 m thick, barren gravels (unit A), are present. Grey clays (unit B), 1.5 m thick, containing freshwater and terrestrial molluscs, freshwater ostracods and reworked marine foraminifers and ostracods, overlay unit A. Brown silty clays (unit C), 2.7 m thick, containing marine foraminifers and ostracods, rare marine molluscs, and subordinate freshwater ostracods, follow. The core is closed up by brown sands (unit D), 9 m thick, recording the dominance of marine foraminifers, molluscs and ostracods. Chronological constraints for the studied sedimentary succession are based on AMS (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) radiocarbon dating. The lower gravel unit A of the core MBS3 deposited in an alluvial environment. The sedimentological and palaeontological characters of unit B indicate marshy freshwater environments. Two AMS C dates of this unit gave ages of 19945 ± 345 and 19165 ± 195 yr cal BP, respectively. The sedimentological and palaeontological characters of unit C indicate the development in the Trigno River mouth area of a bay or outer estuarine environment. Finally, as revealed by the deposition of unit D, about 8000-8200 yr BP a shoreface developed in the Trigno mouth area.

Supplementary Online Material
  • Marano F. & Palombo M.R. (2013)

Population structure in straight-tusked elephants: a case study from Neumark Nord 1 (late Middle Pleistocene?, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany)
pp. 207-218


At Neumark Nord 1 (NN1) (northern margin of Geiseltal, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany) a stratigraphical succession documents the environmental evolution of a small endorheic basin during various Middle to Late Pleistocene glacial-interglacial climatic cycles. Although the age of the main lacustrine fossiliferous layers (Lower, Middle and Upper Gyttja) remains controversial (MIS 5e or MIS 7), the elephant bones collected during more than ten years (1985-1996) in the deposits of NN1 basin represent one of the most outstanding samples of straight-tusked elephants in Europe. Herein we analyze the structural characteristics (age, body size, and gender) of the richest NN1 Palaeoloxodon sample (counting more than 50 individuals), found in the area exposed during the “second regression phase” (Middle Gyttja, 6.1 level), whose time of deposition has been estimated at about 250 years. The results obtained enhance our knowledge on body size, ontogenetic growth, sexual dimorphism, and morphological variation of European straight-tusked elephants, highlighting that the dimensional gap between males and females may have been increased by the different rate in epiphyseal fusion of limb bones. At the same time, the present results give little information on the averaged structure of Palaeoloxodon populations. Although taphonomic signatures indicate that the sample mostly includes animals that died in situ, the extremely low number of young individuals, the high number of adult and old elephants and the presence of adult males in the bone assemblage, make this population different in structure from that of most living elephant populations. The mortality profile inferred for the NN1 sample from 6.1 level differs from both the catastrophic and attritional profiles known for extant elephants. The factors causing the peculiar composition of this elephant assemblage are difficult to ascertain, though protracted phases of reduced rainfall may have affected the skeletal input during the “second regression phase”. Nonetheless, it remains unclear to what extent (if any) the averaged structure of the NN1 population differed from that of the extant elephants.

  • Pandolfi L. (2013)

Rhinocerotidae (Mammalia, Perissodactyla) from the Middle Pleistocene site of Ponte Milvio, central Italy


Three rhinoceros species have been identified at Ponte Milvio: Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis (Toula, 1902), Stephanorhinus hemitoechus (Falconer, 1859) and Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis (Jäger, 1839). Remains ascribed to S. hundsheimensis were collected in gravels and sands deposits. They show morphological and morphometric affinities with the small-sized populations of the latest Early Pleistocene from Vallonnet. The occurrence of these small-sized specimens suggests the presence of a faunal assemblage chronologically related with the Early-Middle Pleistocene transition. The remains of S. hemitoechus and S. kirchbergensis were collected in volcanoclastic deposits. The specimens ascribed to S. hemitoechus show morphometric characters close to the small-sized specimens of the latest Middle Pleistocene. Moreover, S. kirchbergensis seems to be common in Italy during the late Middle Pleistocene and it has never been collected with certainty from Late Pleistocene sites. The co-occurrence of S. kirchbergensis and the small-sized S. hemitoechus suggests the presence of a faunal assemblage chronologically referable to a time span between MIS10 and MIS8.

  • Rassegna dell’attività sociale (2013)



Resoconto dell'Adunanza dell’Assemblea dei Soci della Società Paleontologica Italiana - Sala del Museo Archeologico Nazionale dell’Umbria, Piazza Giordano Bruno, Perugia -25 maggio 2013