Special Issue "Advances in Quaternary Studies: The Contribution of Mammalian Fossil Record"

A special issue of Quaternary (ISSN 2571-550X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Maria Rita Palombo

Professor in Palaeontology and Palaeoecology, Associate researcher CNR-IGAG; c/o Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Sapienza Università di Roma, P.le Aldo Moro, 5 - 00185 Roma, Italy
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Interests: paleontology; paleoecology; biochronology; paleobiogeography; cenozoic mammals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The multifaceted and intriguing evolutionary history of mammals, which led to today’s biodiversity and biogeographical setting, mingles with those of paleogeographical, climatic and environmental changes.

The Quaternary period, recording the most dramatic change in the Earth climate system, is of particular interest when scrutinizing the causal factors leading to the progressive reconstruction of mammalian communities, as well as the changes in biogeography and biodiversity.

This Special Issue, “Advances in Quaternary Studies: The Contribution of Mammalian Fossil Record” aims to present the state-of-the-art and the diversity within the field, the most advanced research on fauna dynamics with the purpose of evaluating the significance of the species responses to Quaternary climatic changes, and comparing evolutionary scenarios during time and across space.

Deciphering the complex network of mechanisms driving fauna evolution, likewise, is of crucial relevance to understand the actual meaning of the so-called sixth mass extinction, and to plan appropriate actions for biodiversity conservation in view of the ongoing climate warming. The Special Issue allows for stretching our imagination beyond the present, and collects insights into the Earth’s ecosystems future scenario through a lesson from the past.

Prof. Maria Rita Palombo
Guest Editor

 

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Quaternary is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Advanced methods in palaeoecology
  • Biostratigraphy and biochronology
  • Climate forcing
  • Dispersal
  • Evolutionary models
  • Extinctions
  • Human impact
  • Mammal fauna dynamics
  • Mathematical models
  • Palaeobiogeography
  • Phylogeography
  • Resilience
  • Wild life management

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Advances in Quaternary Studies: The Contribution of the Mammalian Fossil Record
Quaternary 2018, 1(3), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1030026
Received: 7 November 2018 / Accepted: 14 November 2018 / Published: 23 November 2018
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Abstract
Explaining the multifaceted, dynamic interactions of the manifold factors that have modelled throughout the ages the evolutionary history of the biosphere is undoubtedly a fascinating and challenging task that has been intriguing palaeontologists, biologists and ecologists for decades, in a never-ending pursuit of
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Explaining the multifaceted, dynamic interactions of the manifold factors that have modelled throughout the ages the evolutionary history of the biosphere is undoubtedly a fascinating and challenging task that has been intriguing palaeontologists, biologists and ecologists for decades, in a never-ending pursuit of the causal factors that controlled the evolutionary dynamics of the Earth’s ecosystems throughout deep and Quaternary time. [...] Full article

Research

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Open AccessArticle Identifying Past Remains of Morphologically Similar Vole Species Using Molar Shapes
Quaternary 2018, 1(3), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1030020
Received: 14 June 2018 / Revised: 5 September 2018 / Accepted: 24 September 2018 / Published: 27 September 2018
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Abstract
Accurate species identification in fossil remains is a complex task but is a key component for developing good inferences on many, if not all, fundamental questions in macroecology and macroevolution. In the Quaternary, arvicolines are very abundant remains in archeological and paleontological sites
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Accurate species identification in fossil remains is a complex task but is a key component for developing good inferences on many, if not all, fundamental questions in macroecology and macroevolution. In the Quaternary, arvicolines are very abundant remains in archeological and paleontological sites in Western Europe and their identification is often based on the first lower molar. The common vole Microtus arvalis (Pallas, 1778) and the field vole Microtus agrestis (Linnaeus, 1761) are commonly found in those deposits. These two species are genetically and ecologically divergent. Nonetheless, their lower molars, on which species identification is done, exhibit a large morphological variation that can potentially lead to some confusion and misinterpretation. Moreover, molecular data suggest that present-day M. agrestis populations are a complex of divergent lineages, some of them being recognized nowadays as valid species. On the basis of extant populations representing a large part of the present-day geographical distribution of these two species, we developed a classification model based on geometric morphometrics of the first lower molar. Our statistical model was then applied on four fossil sites selected to evaluate the relevance of taxonomic determination found in species lists. The model using landmarks describing the overall shape of the first lower molar classifies the two species with the smallest prediction error together with very high individual posterior probabilities. The obtained classification is much better than those arising from shapes of any specific molar part such as the anterior loop, asymmetry or peculiar triangle shape. Discrepancies with expert classification on fossils suggest that existing faunal lists should always be considered cautiously for these two species. Our morphometric model provides a first step towards a rationalized way of revising past collections and expertise for future small mammal assemblages. It will thus help us better understand the paleobiogeographical expansion of these two key species in Quaternary faunas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle New Insights into the LGM and LG in Southern France (Vaucluse): The Mustelids, Micromammals and Horses from Coulet des Roches
Quaternary 2018, 1(3), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1030019
Received: 30 May 2018 / Revised: 14 September 2018 / Accepted: 17 September 2018 / Published: 27 September 2018
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Abstract
Coulet des Roches is a natural karst trap in Southern France. Its infilling dates back to the end of the Pleniglacial (Last Glacial Maximum, LGM) and the end of the Tardiglacial (Last Glacial, LG). Three mustelid species have been identified in this infilling:
[...] Read more.
Coulet des Roches is a natural karst trap in Southern France. Its infilling dates back to the end of the Pleniglacial (Last Glacial Maximum, LGM) and the end of the Tardiglacial (Last Glacial, LG). Three mustelid species have been identified in this infilling: the common polecat (Mustela putorius, minimum number of individuals (MNI) = 4), the stoat (Mustela erminea, MNI = 14) and the weasel (Mustela nivalis, MNI = 48). The common polecat remains are metrically and morphologically indistinguishable from recent European specimens. The smallest mustelids are mainly represented by average-sized specimens, which are slightly smaller than extant species. A partial weasel skeleton of an extremely small pygmy weasel, regarded as a typical glacial element, was also discovered. Sexual dimorphism is strongly pronounced. Seventeen horses have been identified, corresponding to the chrono subspecies Equus ferus gallicus. The analysis of the muzzles and metapodials shows overall adaptation to cool and dry weather conditions. The ibexes are typical of Capra ibex (MNI = 15). The p3 morphology is similar to the LGM populations located on the southern side of the Durance River, with an important dilation of the metaconid, except for the oldest LGM specimen. This dilation is older on the southern side of the Durance River, as it occurs at the end of MIS 3. This difference could reflect the barrier role of the Durance River. Micromammals are abundant (mostly related to rodents and shrews; 18 genera/species; MNI = 470). The paleoecological study highlighted important and rapid climatic and environmental fluctuations throughout the sequence. As a result of climatic fluctuations, the plains constituted a corridor for the migration of temperate species to Provence during cold periods (“southern refuge zone”) and their re-immigration to Western Europe during temperate episodes. In a related and complementary way, the highland areas not only played a natural role as a geographical barrier, but also constituted a refuge zone during interglacial episodes for some micromammal species originating from northern and eastern parts of Europe (“cryptic southern refugia”). Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Description of Two New Species of the Genus Rucervus (Cervidae, Mammalia) from the Early Pleistocene of Southeast Europe, with Comments on Hominin and South Asian Ruminants Dispersals
Quaternary 2018, 1(2), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1020017
Received: 30 May 2018 / Revised: 28 August 2018 / Accepted: 3 September 2018 / Published: 11 September 2018
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Abstract
The article attests the presence of the genus Rucervus in the paleontological record of Europe and presents the description of new species of large-sized deer Rucervus radulescui sp. nov. from the Early Pleistocene of Valea Grăunceanului (Southern Romania) and Rucervus gigans sp. nov.
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The article attests the presence of the genus Rucervus in the paleontological record of Europe and presents the description of new species of large-sized deer Rucervus radulescui sp. nov. from the Early Pleistocene of Valea Grăunceanului (Southern Romania) and Rucervus gigans sp. nov. from the late Early Pleistocene of Apollonia-1 (Greece). The described cervid species represent two different evolutionary radiations of Rucervus that are grouped into the extinct subgenus Arvernoceros that represents the northern evolutionary radiation and the nominotypical subgenus that is regarded as the southern evolutionary radiation and represented today by only one species Rucervus duvaucelii. The evolutionary radiation and dispersals of Rucervus are regarded in the paleobiogeographic context of faunal exchanges between southeastern Europe, Caucasus, and Near East during the Early Pleistocene and the westward dispersal of early hominins in Eurasia. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Paradise Lost of Milia (Grevena, Greece; Late Pliocene, Early Villafranchian, MN15/MN16a): Faunal Composition and Diversity
Quaternary 2018, 1(2), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1020013
Received: 20 June 2018 / Revised: 31 July 2018 / Accepted: 3 August 2018 / Published: 9 August 2018
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Abstract
(1) Background: Over the last decades, important fossil records of Late Pliocene mammals and reptiles have been unearthed in Milia, Grevena (N Greece). This assemblage shows a remarkable composition and diversity, including the partial skeletons of mastodons that reached record-breaking sizes, abundant rhinos—the
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(1) Background: Over the last decades, important fossil records of Late Pliocene mammals and reptiles have been unearthed in Milia, Grevena (N Greece). This assemblage shows a remarkable composition and diversity, including the partial skeletons of mastodons that reached record-breaking sizes, abundant rhinos—the first occurrence of this species in Greece—and some new species; (2) Methods: We perform a thorough quantitative analysis of the recovered assemblage, presenting the information of the various collection spots in Milia, and calculate various biodiversity indices for each spot; (3) Results: Our research has revealed the vast majority of expected taxa in the assemblage. We argue that the various sub-localities in Milia could be grouped into a larger, composite assemblage representing a short period. We analyze the diversity changes through the various localities in Milia and highlight potential barriers that could affect the distribution of taxa; (4) Conclusions: We re-affirm the Early Villafranchian affinities of the fauna. In particular, Milia should date at MN16a, with a surprising presence of some more archaic, Ruscinian taxa. The fossils of Milia depict a Late Pliocene paradise in the Southern Balkans; a paradise, unfortunately, lost with the onset of the dramatic climate changes of the Quaternary. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Villafranchian Hipparion-Bearing Mammal Fauna from Sésklo (E. Thessaly, Greece): Implications for the Question of Hipparion–Equus Sympatry in Europe
Quaternary 2018, 1(2), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1020012
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 31 July 2018 / Accepted: 2 August 2018 / Published: 7 August 2018
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Abstract
Recently collected fossil material in the Villafranchian locality of Sésklo, as well as a re-evaluation of a pre-existing, partly-published museum collection, allow the recognition of a lower faunal level in the locality, older than the main Equus-dominated fossil assemblage, dated in the
[...] Read more.
Recently collected fossil material in the Villafranchian locality of Sésklo, as well as a re-evaluation of a pre-existing, partly-published museum collection, allow the recognition of a lower faunal level in the locality, older than the main Equus-dominated fossil assemblage, dated in the Early Pleistocene (MNQ17). The lower level yielded, instead, an advanced hipparion, referred to the species Plesiohipparion cf. shanxiense, and a small number of associated taxa: an ostrich (Struthio cf. chersonensis), an unidentified proboscidean, the pig Sus arvernensis, two antelopes (Gazella cf. bouvrainae and Gazellospira torticornis), a large bovid (Bovini indet.), and a rhinoceros (Stephanorhinus sp.). The lower-level fauna is dated in the latest Pliocene (MN16) and indicates a rather open and dry palaeoenvironment. The faunal sequence in Sésklo shows that the hipparion did not co-occur with the stenonid horse, at least in this region. Previous reports on sympatry of these taxa may result from faunal mixing, requiring re-examination of the available samples. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Mammoths, Deer, and a Dog: Fossil and (Sub) Recent Allochthonous Remains from the Northeastern Croatia (Podravina Region), with the First Radiocarbon Dating of the Croatian Woolly Mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius)
Quaternary 2018, 1(2), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1020011
Received: 30 May 2018 / Revised: 22 July 2018 / Accepted: 25 July 2018 / Published: 1 August 2018
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Abstract
Eight anatomically and taxonomically different finds are presented in this paper, and they belong to four taxa: woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), giant deer (Megaloceros giganteus), red deer (Cervus elaphus), and dog (Canis familiaris). All specimens
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Eight anatomically and taxonomically different finds are presented in this paper, and they belong to four taxa: woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), giant deer (Megaloceros giganteus), red deer (Cervus elaphus), and dog (Canis familiaris). All specimens represent allochthonous Late Pleistocene and Holocene animal remains, and all were dredged during the gravel exploitation at the Sekuline site near Molve (Podravina region, SW Pannonian basin, NE Croatia). Mammoth remains (bone and tusk fragments) were radiocarbon dated, and these are the first absolute dates on mammoths in Croatia. One upper last left deciduous premolar (dP4 sin.) also belongs to the same species. Ascribed to a dog is one well-preserved skull with a peculiar abscess scar on the maxillary bone as the result of an inflammatory process on the carnassial (P4) premolar. The Late Pleistocene cervid remains are giant deer, while the other cervid finds were determined to be red deer of the Holocene age. Morphometrical and taphonomical data are presented for each specimen. Such fossil and recent bone/tooth aggregates are characteristic of fluvial deposits and selective collecting. Although lacking stratigraphic provenance, these finds help to fulfil the gaps in palaeoenvironmental, palaeoecological, and palaeoclimate reconstructions of Podravina and its neighbouring areas. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Preliminary Analysis of European Small Mammal Faunas of the Eemian Interglacial: Species Composition and Species Diversity at a Regional Scale
Quaternary 2018, 1(2), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1020009
Received: 22 May 2018 / Revised: 20 July 2018 / Accepted: 20 July 2018 / Published: 26 July 2018
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Abstract
Small mammal remains obtained from the European localities dated to the Eemian (Mikulino) age have been analyzed for the first time at a regional scale based on the present biogeographical regionalization of Europe. The regional faunas dated to the warm interval in the
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Small mammal remains obtained from the European localities dated to the Eemian (Mikulino) age have been analyzed for the first time at a regional scale based on the present biogeographical regionalization of Europe. The regional faunas dated to the warm interval in the first part of the Late Pleistocene display notable differences in fauna composition, species richness, and diversity indices. The classification of regional faunal assemblages revealed distinctive features of small mammal faunas in Eastern and Western Europe during the Eemian (=Mikulino, =Ipswichian) Interglacial. Faunas of the Iberian Peninsula, Apennine Peninsula, and Sardinia Island appear to deviate from the other regions. In the Eemian Interglacial, the maximum species richness of small mammals (≥40 species) with a relatively high proportion of typical forest species was recorded in Western and Central Europe and in the western part of Eastern Europe. The lowest species richness (5–14 species) was typical of island faunas and of those in the north of Eastern Europe. The data obtained make it possible to reconstruct the distribution of forest biotopes and open habitats (forest-steppe and steppe) in various regions of Europe. Noteworthy is a limited area of forests in the south and in the northeastern part of Europe. In these regions, it seems likely that under conditions of relatively high temperatures characteristic of the Last Interglacial and an insufficient moisture supply there could exist open forest stands or forest-steppe landscapes, as suggested by the presence of species indicative of forest-steppe and steppe north of the forest zone. The results obtained are useful in modeling changes in the mammal faunas as well as environmental changes in entire Europe due to global climatic changes (including the global warming recorded at present). Full article
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Open AccessCommunication A Brief Note on the Presence of the Common Hamster during the Late Glacial Period in Southwestern France
Quaternary 2018, 1(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1010008
Received: 18 May 2018 / Revised: 4 June 2018 / Accepted: 5 June 2018 / Published: 7 June 2018
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Abstract
The Late Glacial period is characterized by slow warming, punctuated by short, cold episodes, such as the Younger Dryas (i.e., GS1). The impact of this climatic event on the mammal community is still poorly documented in southwestern France. Here, a new radiocarbon date
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The Late Glacial period is characterized by slow warming, punctuated by short, cold episodes, such as the Younger Dryas (i.e., GS1). The impact of this climatic event on the mammal community is still poorly documented in southwestern France. Here, a new radiocarbon date obtained directly on fossil remains of common hamster, Cricetus cricetus, confirms its presence in southwestern France during the Younger Dryas (GS1). This observation currently suggests that C. cricetus could be an accurate chronological indicator of this event in southwestern France. In this particular case, it also demonstrates an attritional death, polluting the deposit, these remains having been found in the Combe-Cullier layer, attributed to an earlier period. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Deciduous Tusks and Small Permanent Tusks of the Woolly Mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius (Blumenbach, 1799) Found on Beaches in The Netherlands
Quaternary 2018, 1(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1010007
Received: 25 March 2018 / Revised: 21 May 2018 / Accepted: 22 May 2018 / Published: 28 May 2018
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Abstract
Tusks of very young mammoths and other proboscideans are extremely rare in the fossil record. This article presents all deciduous tusks and newly-developing permanent tusks of woolly mammoths which are known from Dutch localities and the North Sea. Four deciduous tusks are from
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Tusks of very young mammoths and other proboscideans are extremely rare in the fossil record. This article presents all deciduous tusks and newly-developing permanent tusks of woolly mammoths which are known from Dutch localities and the North Sea. Four deciduous tusks are from The Netherlands and one is from Germany. Five specimens of newly-developing permanent tusks are also discussed. In this article, we present several characteristics and details of those tusks such as presence/absence of roots, and cementum and enamel layers that should facilitate an identification when new findings are made. We also describe a dental element, a digitelle, that is easily mistaken for a tusk of a juvenile woolly mammoth. Full article
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Open AccessArticle New Material and Revision of the Carnivora, Mammalia from the Lower Pleistocene Locality Apollonia 1, Greece
Quaternary 2018, 1(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1010006
Received: 19 March 2018 / Revised: 2 May 2018 / Accepted: 14 May 2018 / Published: 17 May 2018
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Abstract
During the last field campaigns in the mammal fossiliferous site Apollonia 1 (Macedonia, Greece), new carnivoran material has been discovered. The new collection added two new carnivoran taxa, Homotherium latidens and Panthera gombaszögensis. The new canid material and the revision of the
[...] Read more.
During the last field campaigns in the mammal fossiliferous site Apollonia 1 (Macedonia, Greece), new carnivoran material has been discovered. The new collection added two new carnivoran taxa, Homotherium latidens and Panthera gombaszögensis. The new canid material and the revision of the old one (a) suggest the presence of two Canis species, C. etruscus and C. apolloniensis; (b) confirm the presence of the hypercarnivore Lycaon lycaonoides, and (c) allow for re-classifying the vulpine material to Vulpes praeglacialis. The taxonomic status of the species C. apolloniensis and Meles dimitrius is discussed. The composition and diversity of the Apollonia carnivoran assemblage are estimated and compared to those of various Greek and European Villafranchian ones. The results suggest close similarity to the Venta Micena (Spain) and Dmanisi (Georgia) carnivoran assemblages. The biochronological evidence indicates that Apollonia 1 is younger than Venta Micena and older than Untermassfeld (Germany), suggesting an age of 1.3–1.0 Ma. The study of the carnivoran guild structure of Apollonia 1 in comparison to the modern ones from known environments, as well as their functional morphology, suggest an open habitat, agreeing with previous interpretations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Late Pleistocene Deer in the Region of the National Park “Serra da Capivara” (Piauí, Brazil)
Quaternary 2018, 1(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1010004
Received: 6 January 2018 / Revised: 8 March 2018 / Accepted: 12 March 2018 / Published: 14 March 2018
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Abstract
The analysis of the cervid fossil remains from the late Pleistocene fossiliferous deposit Lagoa dos Porcos (in the region of the National Park “Serra da Capivara”, Piauí, Brazil) proves the presence of at least two species: a small deer, belonging to the genus
[...] Read more.
The analysis of the cervid fossil remains from the late Pleistocene fossiliferous deposit Lagoa dos Porcos (in the region of the National Park “Serra da Capivara”, Piauí, Brazil) proves the presence of at least two species: a small deer, belonging to the genus Mazama, and a larger one (Morenelaphus sp.). The latter taxon is recognized for the first time not only in this area, but in the whole Piauí State, enlarging the paleogeographic distribution of the genus. This study also points out the difference between the cervid fauna found in the karstic area of Park and Lagoa dos Porcos, which lies in the alluvial plain. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Elephant and Mammoth Hunting during the Paleolithic: A Review of the Relevant Archaeological, Ethnographic and Ethno-Historical Records
Quaternary 2018, 1(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1010003
Received: 31 December 2017 / Revised: 31 January 2018 / Accepted: 6 February 2018 / Published: 8 February 2018
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Abstract
Proboscideans and humans have shared habitats across the Old and New Worlds for hundreds of thousands of years. Proboscideans were included in the human diet starting from the Lower Paleolithic period and until the final stages of the Pleistocene. However, the question of
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Proboscideans and humans have shared habitats across the Old and New Worlds for hundreds of thousands of years. Proboscideans were included in the human diet starting from the Lower Paleolithic period and until the final stages of the Pleistocene. However, the question of how prehistoric people acquired proboscideans remains unresolved. Moreover, the effect of proboscidean hunting on the eventual extinction of these mega-herbivores was never seriously evaluated, probably because of the lack of acquaintance with the plethora of information available regarding proboscidean hunting by humans. The aim of this paper is to bridge this gap and bring to light the data available in order to estimate the extent and procedures of elephant and mammoth hunting by humans during the Quaternary. This study examines the archaeological evidence of proboscidean hunting during Paleolithic times, and provides a review of ethnographic and ethno-historical accounts, demonstrating a wide range of traditional elephant-hunting strategies. We also discuss the rituals accompanying elephant hunting among contemporary hunter-gatherers, further stressing the importance of elephants among hunter-gatherers. Based on the gathered data, we suggest that early humans possessed the necessary abilities to actively and regularly hunt proboscideans; and performed this unique and challenging task at will. Full article
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