Bollettino SPI Vol. 56 (1)

Published in June 2017


  • Rosso A., Sanfilippo R., Vertino A. & Zibrowius H. (2017)

Hanging coral gardens of a Tyrrhenian submarine cave from Sicily (Italy)
pp. 1-12


An exceptionally well-preserved cave palaeocommunity is described from the Capo Milazzo Peninsula (NE Sicily). The Fulco Cave formed within a layer of breccia including metamorphic and Miocene limestone blocks together with rare clasts of isidid-bearing lithified bathyal sediments. This new breccia type points to a still undescribed deposition event in the early Pleistocene. The fossil association inside the cave is relatively diversified and dominated by the dendrophyllid coral Astroides calycularis whose colonies encrusted the cavity ceiling and grew in an upside-down position, forming spectacular “hanging gardens”. The warm climate affinity of Astroides indicates that colonisation took place during an interglacial period, possibly during the Tyrrhenian. The palaeocommunity indicates a semi-dark cave open toward the sea in a shallow water setting. The elongation of Astroides corallites was possibly driven by a low level of water motion and/or competition for space and food. The common constrictions point to slow or no growth phases possibly related to environmental fluctuations, periodically leading to mass mortality events.

  • Pšenička j., Mosca P., Opluštil S. & Martinetto E. (2017)

New late Palaeozoic plant remains in the Ligurian Alps (Italy)
pp. 13-33


This paper describes palaeobotanical material discovered in new fossiliferous localities from the late Palaeozoic fluviolacustrine deposits of the Ollano Formation in the central part of the Ligurian Alps (north western Italy). Despite the tectono-metamorphic history that generally results in poor preservation of plant remains, abundant fossil plant specimens were preserved in less deformed portions of the rock succession. The common presence  of Neuralethopteris schlehanii (Stur, 1877) Laveine, 1967, Laveinopteris tenuifolia (Schlotheim ex Sternberg, 1825) Cleal et al., 1990 var. nordfrancia Cleal & Shute, 2003, Neuropteris obliqua (Brongniart, 1831) Zeiller, 1888, and Lyginopteris cf. L. baeumleri (Andrae, 1868) Gothan, 1913 provides time constraints for deposition of the Ollano Formation between the latest early Pennsylvanian and early middle Pennsylvanian, most probably within the late Bashkirian (Langsettian-early Duckmantian) with the assemblage corresponding to the Lyginopteris hoeninghausii/Neuralethopteris schlehanii fossil plant Zone. Our new findings of plant fossils from this formation confirm an age very close to the late Westphalian, originally proposed by previous palaeobotanical studies. This indicates that further analyses are necessary in order to better constrain the primary relationship between the Ollano Fm. and the adjacent volcanics, whose radiometric dating to the early Permian is problematic.

  • Rodriguez Bualó S.M., Zurita A.E., Soibelzon E., González-Ruiz L. & Paredes Rios F. (2017)

The Cingulata Dasypodidae (Mammalia, Xenarthra) in the Tarija Valley (Bolivia): a particular assemblage in South America
pp. 35-43


The Tolomosa Formation in southern Bolivia’s Tarija Valley contains one of the most important Pleistocene assemblages of vertebrates in South America, in which Xenarthra are among the most recorded and diversified taxa. Within this clade, the Cingulata Dasypodidae has traditionally included four taxa: the Euphractinae Euphractini Chaetophractus tarijensis (a supposedly endemic species) and Euphractus sexcintus, and the Dasypodinae Dasypodini Dasypus and Propraopus grandis. However, a taxonomic revision together with new findings that include geographic and stratigraphic provenance reveals surprisingly low armadillo diversity; the only recorded taxa correspond to Propraopus sulcatus and Chaetopractus villosus. This is evident when compared with, for example, the Dasypodidae recorded in the Pampean region of Argentina that included more than six species in the Pleistocene. All of the new records come from the localities of Monte Sur (also called San Pedro), Monte Cercado and Río Rujero in the Tarija Valley, while the wide chronological distribution of these species does not allow us to infer the age of the Tolomosa Formation. This low Dasypodidae diversity is concordant with observations in other Cingulata clades, such as the Glyptodontidae.

  • Pandolfi L. & Rook L. (2017)

Rhinocerotidae (Mammalia, Perissodactyla) from the latest Turolian localities (MN 13; Late Miocene) of central and northern Italy
pp. 45-56


Latest Miocene (MN 13) rhinoceroses from central and northern Italian localities are here described and compared in detail. Rhinoceros specimens have been collected from four localities (Moncucco Torinese, Verduno, Baccinello V3 and Monticino Quarry) and consist of isolated teeth (upper and lower premolars and molars), an almost complete maxilla with I1 and P2-M3, a fragmentary mandible, a p2-p4, a scaphoid and a damaged tibia. A few specimens (isolated teeth from Verduno and Moncucco Torinese and a fragmentary tibia from Baccinello V3) have been generally referred to as Rhinocerotini indet. whilst other remains have been assigned to the species “Dihoplus” megarhinus based on several morphological characters. “D.” megarhinus has been considered a typical Pliocene species, nevertheless it has been recently recorded in several Late Miocene (MN 12 and MN 13) mammal assemblages of the Pannonian Basin. The occurrence of “D.” megarhinus in the latest Turolian of Italy confirms the presence of this species during the Late Miocene in Europe and suggests a dispersal of eastern European taxa in western Europe and Italy during the MN 13 as also testified by other taxa such as Hippotherium, Prolagus sorbinii and Hansdebruijnia sp.

  • Pillola G.L. & Zoboli D. (2017)

Dwarf mammoth footprints from the Pleistocene of Gonnesa (southwestern Sardinia, Italy)
pp. 57-64


Tetrapod footprints have been reported in different types of environments, and are a suitable tool for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. Previously, mammal footprints were reported in the Plio-Pleistocene fossil record of Sardinia (Italy), and were assigned to different endemic ruminants (Cervidae and Bovidae). In this work, we report the first occurrence of proboscidean footprints in the Italian fossil record. The ichnofossils are assigned to Proboscipeda panfamilia McNeil, Hills, Tolman & Kooyman, 2007. The studied footprints are preserved in highly consolidated aeolian deposits from the Pleistocene of Funtana Morimenta (Gonnesa, southwestern Sardinia, Italy). The recovered ichnofossils are represented by isolated manus-pes couples preserved as hyporeliefs and/or epireliefs. Furthermore, other footprints were observed in situ. The footprints’ shape and size indicate that the track-maker is likely to be the Sardinian dwarf mammoth Mammuthus lamarmorai (Major, 1883). The Sardinian record may represent a unique example of dwarf mammoth footprints in the western Mediterranean Basin. Furthermore, a synthetic summary of the knowledge of the proboscidean ichnofossil record is also provided.

  • Esu D. & Girotti O. (2017)

Bithynia abbatiae n. sp. (Caenogastropoda) from the Lower Pliocene of the Pesa River Valley (Tuscany, central Italy) and palaeobiogeographical remarks
pp. 65-70


A new extinct freshwater gastropod species,Bithynia abbatiae n. sp., representative of the Family Bithyniidae (Caenogastropoda, Truncatelloidea), is described. It was recorded from lacustrine-palustrine layers of the stratigraphical section Sambuca Nord, near the Sambuca village in the Pesa Valley, sub-basin of the adjacent Valdelsa Basin (Tuscany, central Italy). These deposits are rich in non-marine molluscs and ostracods. Stratigraphical correlations and palaeontological data (mammals and microfossils) of the Valdelsa Basin indicate an Early Pliocene age for the analysed deposits, supported also by the eastern affinity of the recorded molluscs and ostracods.

  • Mecozzi B., Iurino D.A., Berté D.F. & Sardella R. (2017)

Canis mosbachensis (Canidae, Mammalia) from the Middle Pleistocene of Contrada Monticelli (Putignano, Apulia, southern Italy)
pp. 71-78


Herein we describe for the first time a canid partial cranium from the Contrada Monticelli site. Morphological and biometrical studies allow the fossil remains to be referred to the Middle Pleistocene wolf Canis mosbachensis. Associated taxa include Paleoloxodon antiquus, Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis, cervids, equids and bovids, whose biochronological occurrence allows the site to be referred to the Galerian Mammal Age. Diagnostic characters normally used to distinguish Canis mosbachensis from Canis lupus are herein discussed. These carnivorans show a wide range in body-size and morphological variability, related to an extensive geographical distribution. The analyzed fossil can be considered as the smallest European specimen referable to the Mosbach wolf and represents the southernmost occurrence of this taxon in Italy.

  • Bannikov A.F., Carnevale G. & Popov Y.A. (2017)

An extraordinary pipefish (Teleostei, Syngnathidae) with fully developed anal fin from the Oligocene of the North Caucasus (SW Russia).
pp. 79-88


A new genus and species of pipefishes (Syngnathiformes, Syngnathidae), Pshekhagnathus polypterus n. gen. n. sp. is described from the Lower Oligocene (Planorbella Beds, Lower Maikopian Series) of the North Caucasus, Russia. Unlike all the other extant and fossil syngnathids known to date, which are characterized by a very small anal fin with two to six anal-fin rays, the new pipefish described herein has a fully developed anal fin as equally almost identical to its opposite dorsal fin. This remarkable morphological feature justifies the creation of a new pipefish subfamily - Pshekhagnathinae n. subfam. - to accommodate this early Oligocene form.


New findings of Stegotetrabelodon syrticus from the Late Miocene of Cessaniti, southern Italy
pp. 89-92