Evolutionary aspects of the biology of chamois, Rupicapra spp. (Bovidae, Caprinae)
Kurtén (1968) wrote that the origin of Rupicapra ‘is a mystery’. Today we know a little more on its evolution, although we are still far from having a clear picture of how chamois evolved. This is somewhat unusual when compared with the relatively extensive information available on other tribes of the subfamily Caprinae. On the other hand, it seems to be a common pattern in the Rupicaprini tribe. Why are palaeontological remains of Rupicaprini so rare? Most likely, such rarity depends on the nature of the terrain on which Rupicapra and the other members of its tribe seem to have always been dependent: a rocky, rugged, steep ground in which bones are easily crushed and eroded, thus preventing fossilisation (Masini and Lovari, in prep.). This fact makes it difficult to reconstruct the evolutionary biology of the genus Rupicapra, as we are unable to observe the development of body features and structures which suddenly appear in their ‘modern’ form in the late Mindel-early Riss (Mid-Pleistocene).
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