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New finds from San Teodoro Cave: an updating of the Middle Pleistocene fossil record from Acquedolci (north-eastern Sicily)

Abstract

Excavations conducted in 2006 inside San Teodoro Cave (north-eastern Sicily) retrieved remains of Hippopotamus pentlandi; of a medium-sized, dwarf Palaeoloxodon; and of Ursus cf. arctos. The specimens were found under a blackish phosphatic crust, dated to about 120 ky. This stratigraphic position sets an important constraint on the arrival time of the ancestors of both H. pentlandi and Palaeoloxodon elephants in Sicily. The elephant has a size compatible with that of a female individual of the Puntali Cave representatives. By providing insights into its dimorphism, the finds contribute important new information on this still undescribed Sicilian dwarf elephant species. More in general, the San Teodoro elephant adds clues to the possible timing of the arrival of palaeoloxodon proboscideans in Sicily in the course of the second half of the Pleistocene. On the other hand, the presence of Hippopotamus pentlandi confirms that the species survived at least to the late Middle Pleistocene.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the reviewers Ralf-Dietrich Kahlke and Alexandra van der Geer for their constructive reviews.

Funding

PAULMAZZARICATEN19 - Mazza P. Fondo Ateneo 2019 MIUR (the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research) grants supported this study.

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Correspondence to Paul Peter Anthony Mazza.

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Mangano, G., Insacco, G., Bonfiglio, L. et al. New finds from San Teodoro Cave: an updating of the Middle Pleistocene fossil record from Acquedolci (north-eastern Sicily). Palaeobio Palaeoenv 100, 1065–1076 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12549-020-00430-7

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Keywords

  • Insular endemism
  • Mammalia
  • Palaeobiogeography
  • Palaeoloxodon
  • Hippopotamus pentlandi