Functional and Systematic Implications of the Postcranial Anatomy of a Late Miocene Feline (Carnivora, Felidae) from Batallones-1 (Madrid, Spain)

  • Manuel J. Salesa
  • Gema Siliceo
  • Mauricio Antón
  • Stéphane Peigné
  • Jorge Morales
Original Paper


The Spanish late Miocene locality of Batallones-1 yielded a rich sample of large carnivorans, including saber-toothed felids, amphicyonids, and ailurids, but also of smaller species, with the small cats being especially interesting. Two species are known from Batallones-1, one of them the size of a wildcat, Felis silvestris, the other one the size of a caracal, Caracal caracal. The former is represented by skulls, mandibles, and postcranial bones, whereas the latter is known from a collection of long bones. Both species are less abundant than their larger relatives, the saber-toothed felids Promegantereon ogygia and Machairodus aphanistus, but the available sample allows us to assess body proportions and adaptations of the smallest species, and to propose a new genus for this feline, Leptofelis vallesiensis. Its limb bones are remarkably gracile compared to fossils of the earlier genera Pseudaelurus, Miopanthera, and Styriofelis, and comparable in cursorial adaptations to the wildcat, very different from extant arboreal cats. While middle Miocene felids were likely semi-arboreal forest dwellers, L. vallesiensis would be mostly terrestrial, climbing essentially for protection. This indicates an adaptation to a mosaic of habitats, including relatively open terrain, and may be related to the climatic changes detected in Eurasia during the late Miocene.


Morphology Locomotion Vallesian Leptofelis 



This study is part of the research projects CGL2015-68333-P (MINECO/FEDER, UE) and IF/00351/2014/CP1216/CT0003 (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Portugal). MJS is member of the Research Groups CSIC 641538 and IDL-RG2 (Coast, Water and Earth surface processes). GS is member of the Research Group “Bioacústica Evolutiva y Paleoantropología”, and a postdoctoral researcher funded by the Postdoctoral Programme from the Universidad de Alcalá (Madrid, Spain). JM is member of the Research Groups CSIC 641538 and CAM-UCM 910607. We thank the Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid (Dirección General de Patrimonio Histórico) for its continuous funding support and research permissions. We especially thank Dr. Juan Francisco Pastor (Universidad de Valladolid, Spain) for the loan of the extant specimens used for comparison. We thank Enrique Cantero for his excellent preparation of the fossils of Leptofelis vallesiensis from Batallones-1. We also thank Dr. Gertrud Rößner (Curator of Fossil Mammals) and Manuela Schellenberger (photographer) both from the Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie (Munich, Germany), for providing us with images of the tibia of Styriofelis turnauensis from Wintershof-West (catalogue number SNSB-BSPG 1937 II 12806). Finally, we thank Dr. John Wible, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive comments on an earlier version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel J. Salesa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gema Siliceo
    • 3
  • Mauricio Antón
    • 1
  • Stéphane Peigné
    • 4
  • Jorge Morales
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Paleobiología, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales-CSICMadridSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de GeologiaFaculdade de Ciências da Universidade de LisboaLisboaPortugal
  3. 3.Departamento de Ciencias de la VidaUniversidad de Alcalá, Edificio de CienciasAlcalá de HenaresSpain
  4. 4.CR2P–UMR 7207 CNRS, Museum national d’Histoire naturelleParisFrance

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