First Record of Puma concolor (Mammalia, Felidae) in the Early-Middle Pleistocene of South America

Abstract

Felidae is represented in South America by approximately ten species, belonging to three main phylogenetic lineages: the Ocelot lineage, the Puma lineage, and the Panthera lineage. Pumas (Puma concolor) and jaguarundis (Puma yagouaroundi), together with the African cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), compose the puma lineage. Paleontological knowledge about Puma concolor in North and South America is mainly restricted to the late Pleistocene and Holocene. In this contribution, we describe the first skull of Puma concolor from the early-middle Pleistocene (Ensenadan Stage/Age) of the costal cliffs of Santa Elena Creek, north of Mar del Plata city (37°52′03″S - 57°30′49″W, Buenos Aires province, Argentina). The remains (MMP 1476-M) come from stratigraphic Level 2 of the Miramar Formation and were found by one the authors (AD). The specimen described here was compared with a large number of recent and fossils individuals. The new material is represented by a partial skull and mandible with complete dental series. The anatomical analysis demonstrates that MMP 1476-M perfectly matches with the morphology of living puma specimens. The associated fauna (e.g., Protocyon scagliarum, Theriodictis platensis, Mesotherium cristatum) and paleomagnetic data support an upper Ensenadan Stage/Age. Previously reported Ensenadan pumas lack features diagnostic of Puma concolor. Thus, here we report the first unequivocal record of Puma concolor prior to late Pleistocene times in South America. Previous hypotheses of the South American origin of Puma concolor are in congruence with the fossil record of North, Central, and South America.

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Acknowledgments

We thank F. Agnolin for his help with the English version of this work. We especially thank S. Bogan (Fundación de Historia Natural “Félix de Azara,” Buenos Aires, Argentina), D. Flores, S. Lucero, G. Cassini, P. Teta (Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia,” Buenos Aires, Argentina), Itatí Olivares and Diego Verzi (División Mastozoología, Museo de La Plata, La Plata, Argentina), Marcelo Reguero and Martin de los Reyes (División Paleontología Vertebrados, Museo de La Plata, La Plata, Argentina) for their help during the revision of the collections under their care. Thanks also to Adriel R. Gentil, Federico Brison Egli, Julia S. D’Angelo, Gabriel L. Lio, Matias Motta, Sebastian Rozadilla, Mauro Aranciaga Rolando, and Gonzalo Muñoz for their comments and observations during the development of present contribution. This work is dedicated to the memory of Alejandro Dondas, a distinguished geologist and paleontologist, who discovered the material studied here, and who passed away during the elaboration of this work.

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Correspondence to Nicolás R. Chimento.

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This work is dedicated to the memory of Alejandro Dondas, who passed away during the elaboration of this work.

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Chimento, N.R., Dondas, A. First Record of Puma concolor (Mammalia, Felidae) in the Early-Middle Pleistocene of South America. J Mammal Evol 25, 381–389 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10914-017-9385-x

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Keywords

  • Puma lineage
  • GABI
  • Ensenadan stage/age
  • South America
  • North America