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Megantereon adroveri from the Early Pleistocene of Taurida Cave, Crimea, and the European Lineage of Dirk-toothed Cats

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Recent field surveys performed in the newly-discovered Taurida Cave (Crimea, Russia, Late Villafranchian, 1.8–1.5 Ma) enabled us to unearth dentognathic remains of the dirk-toothed cat Megantereon. Here we describe in detail the recovered remains further comparing it anatomically and biometrically with coeval Eurasian and African sites. The performed analysis suggests the inclusion of the Taurida remains in the hypodigm of the Villafranchain European species Megantereon adroveri, a medium-sized saber-toothed cat poorly known in Europe as a consequence of the scarcity and fragmentary nature of the known remains. Our results and the putative transitional characters displayed by the Taurida specimen support the idea put forward by previous authors of a continuous European lineage of dirk-toothed cats.

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Availability of Data and Material

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.



Vernadsky Crimean Federal University






Borissiak Paleontological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences




Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences


Zoological Museum of the Lomonosov Moscow State University


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The authors thank L. Werdelin, B. Martínez-Navarro, Q. Jiangzuo and J. B. Fourvel for useful discussions and suggestions during the last months. We also thank Q. Jiangzuo, L. Werdelin, A. Arribas, L. Rook, S. Bartolini Lucenti and G. Koufos giving us permission for reproduce/figure specimens under their care. The authors express their gratitude to all participants in the excavations in the Taurida Cave and especially to A.M. Berezkin. We also express our special gratitude to the organizers of the excavations, Dean of the Faculty of Geography of CFU B.A. Vakhrushev and G.V. Samokhin, employees of CFU D.B. Startsev and S.V. Tokarev. We sincerely thank the staff of ZMMU S.V. Volkov, S.V. Kruskop, V.S. Lebedev, A.A. Lisovsky, V.E. Lytvyn for advice and assistance in the work. The comments of two anonymous reviewers and the editor D. Croft significantly improved an early version of this work.


The work of J.M.-M. has been funded by the Agencia Estatal de Investigación-European Regional Development Fund of the European Union (CGL2017-82654-P, AEI/FEDER-UE) and the Generalitat de Catalunya (CERCA Program). J.M.-M. is member of the consolidated research group 2017 SGR 116 (AGAUR, Generalitat de Catalunya).

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Correspondence to J. Madurell-Malapeira.

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Lavrov, A.V., Gimranov, D.O., Madurell-Malapeira, J. et al. Megantereon adroveri from the Early Pleistocene of Taurida Cave, Crimea, and the European Lineage of Dirk-toothed Cats. J Mammal Evol 29, 43–49 (2022).

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