The journal of the French Academy of Sciences Comptes Rendus Palevol has just published the finding of remains assigned to a species of extinct cervids registered in the Iberian Peninsula.
The animal, called Haploidoceros mediterraneus, lived in the Pleistocene about 90,000 years ago and to date, remains of this animal have only been found in two sites located in the south of France.
Researchers from the Seminar for Prehistoric Studies and Research (SERP-UB) and the Quaternary Research Group (GRQ), affiliated to the SERP-UB, were the ones who discovered the remains. Its subsequent analysis was carried out together with Jean-Philip Brugal, a researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) at the University of Marseille.
The Haploidoceros mediterraneus It was smaller than today's deer, it had two large antlers, comprising two sickle-shaped beams that curved back and side. Haploidoceros comes from the Greek haploides, 'simple way'And zeros,' horn '.
The archaeological site where the remains were found is called “Cova del Rinoceront”(Cave of the Rhinoceros) and has an extended chronological sequence that ranges from 200,000 to 80,000 BC.
Researchers from the SERP-GRQ of the University of Barcelona have been excavating there since 2002 and this place has provided many remains of Pleistocene fauna, which will include information about what the environment was like before the last ice age.
In 2012, the skeleton of a young elephant and many remains of a Mediterranean tortoise were found, and although there is a lot of information about the fauna of the last ice period, animals such as the mammoth or the woolly rhinoceros, the fauna that lived in the Catalan coastline before the last ice period, it is quite unknown.
The discovery of a unknown species in the Iberian Peninsula makes the Cova del Rinoceront one of the most relevant sites to obtain information about the evolution of prehistoric fauna and their extinction.
The finding certifies that Haploidoceros mediterraneus was a deer common on both sides of the Pyrenees and that its origin could be the Iberian Peninsula. The remains correspond to all parts of the skeleton of at least twelve specimens.
This new record for H. mediterraneus provides evidence of a distribution over chronological time because in France, to be exact, in Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées, the oldest remains are dated around 300,000 years ago.
It also shows that in the Pleistocene, this species was more common than previously thought and that its habitat occupied, at least, the South of Europe. On the other hand, the finding confirms that Haploidoceros mediterraneus coexisted with other deer such as fallow deer or deer, and that it became extinct due to the climatic changes produced at the beginning of the last ice period.