The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

First Miocene record of Mesopithecus from the Iberian Peninsula based on Turolian remains from Venta del Moro (Valencia, Spain)


1Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain, 2Àrea de Paleontologia, Departament de Geologia, Universitat de València, Spain, 3Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy, 4Departamento de Paleobiología, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales - CSIC, Madrid, Spain, 5Department of Anthropology, Lehman College, CUNY, Bronx, NY, USA, 6Department of Vertebrate Paleontology and NYCEP, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, USA

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The extinct genus Mesopithecus (Primates: Cercopithecoidea) includes small to medium-sized colobine monkeys distributed from the late Miocene through the Pliocene across Europe, southwestern Asia, Pakistan and China. In spite of such a wide distribution, until now its occurence in the late Miocene of the Iberian Peninsula had not been conclusively documented. Here we report dental remains of this taxon from the Turolian (MN13, late Miocene) locality of Venta del Moro (Valencia, Spain). The new fossils include most of the deciduous dentition and the unerupted germs of the first molars of a single infantile individual, as well as two lower lateral incisors from two additional individuals. On the basis of morphometric comparisons, mainly based on the lower first molars, these remains are attributed to the late Miocene species Mesopithecus pentelicus. They represent a significant addition to the knowledge of the deciduous dentition of this taxon, much less well-known than the permanent dentition. The reported remains therefore considerably extend southwestwards the known geographic distribution of Mesopithecus. The presence of this taxon at Venta del Moro must be understood within the framework of the significant faunal turnover that took place in European faunas during the latest Turolian (the second Messinian mammalian dispersal), which is further documented at this locality by the occurrence of other eastern immigrants. At the same time, the presence of Mesopithecus pentelicus at Venta del Moro agrees well with previous paleoenvironmental and sedimentological evidence for this locality, indicating a lacustrine depositional environment with strong hydrologic seasonality.

This work has been supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (CGL0211-28681, CGL2011-27343, CGL2011-25754, and RYC-2009-04533 to DMA) and the Generalitat de Catalunya (2009 SGR 754 GRC). Fieldwork at Venta del Moro (1995-2010) was supported by the Conselleria de Cultura of the Generalitat Valenciana, with the permission of the Ministerio de Fomento and ADIF.

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