New insights into the introduction of the common genet, Genetta genetta (L.) in Europe

  • Miguel Delibes
  • Alejandro Centeno-Cuadros
  • Virginie Muxart
  • Germán Delibes
  • Julián Ramos-Fernández
  • Arturo Morales
Original Paper

Abstract

Paleontological, archaeological, and biogeographical evidences strongly suggest the common genet (Genetta genetta; Mammalia, Carnivora) was translocated by humans into Europe. A widespread hypothesis considers the Muslims, which conquered Iberia at the eighth century AD, as the putative agents of translocation. This hypothesis was reinforced because the first record of the species in Europe until now was reported on an Almohad (i.e., early thirteenth century AD) deposit in Mértola (Portugal). Besides, the European genets share a mitochondrial clade with those of coastal Algeria. We have radiocarbon dated some bones of two intrusive genets retrieved at prehistoric levels of Abrigo 6 del Humo complex (Málaga, south Spain). One of them was dated at a 14C age of 1310 ± 30 BP (calibrated date 656–773 AD, 95.4% probability), five centuries earlier than the specimen from Mértola. Sequenced mitochondrial DNA from this A6H individual resulted in a 264-bp fragment of cytochrome b and 248 bp of the control region, concatenated in a single 512-bp sequence. The Abrigo 6 haplotype differed from those of the most common haplogroup (including the specimen from Mértola) previously described in European genets, being much closer to a divergent haplogroup restricted to Andalusia. We discuss the new insights from this genet in its phylogeographical, archaeozoological, and historical frames to conclude that the more widely dispersed haplogroup of genets in Europe could be related to Muslim activities, while the “Andalusian” haplogroup would correspond to an earlier introduction event, probably by the Phoenicians or their Carthaginian heirs.

Keywords

Animal translocation Humo Cave Mammalian carnivore Mitochondrial DNA Phoenicians Phylogeography 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Anna Cornellas and Jennifer Leonard for their help during the lab work in the Ancient DNA lab. Logistical support was provided by Sofía Conradi and Laboratorio de Ecología Molecular, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC (LEM-EBD). Molecular analyses and bone dating were funded by the Severo Ochoa Excellence Award (SEV-2012-0262) to Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC. The research benefited from Grant 19438/PI/14 of the PROGRAMA SéNeCa.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Conservation BiologyEstación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC)SevilleSpain
  2. 2.Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemical EngineeringUniversity Pablo de OlavideSevilleSpain
  3. 3.VilletaneuseFrance
  4. 4.Departamento de Prehistoria y Arqueología, Facultad Filosofía y LetrasUniversidad de ValladolidValladolidSpain
  5. 5.Parque Arqueológico de La ArañaMálagaSpain
  6. 6.Departamento de BiologíaUniversidad Autónoma de Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria de CantoblancoMadridSpain

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