We describe here a partial skull with associated mandible of a large felid from Monte Argentario, Italy (Early Pleistocene; ~1.5 million years). Propagation x-ray phase-contrast synchrotron microtomography of the specimen, still partially embedded in the rock matrix, allows ascribing it reliably to Acinonyx pardinensis, one of the most intriguing extinct carnivorans of the Old World Plio-Pleistocene. The analysis of images and 3D models obtained through synchrotron microtomography - here applied for the first time on a Plio-Pleistocene carnivoran - reveals a mosaic of cheetah-like and Panthera-like features, with the latter justifying previous attributions of the fossil to the extinct Eurasian jaguar Panthera gombaszoegensis. Similarly, we reassign to A. pardinensis some other Italian materials previously referred to P. gombaszoegensis (sites of Pietrafitta and Ellera di Corciano). The recognition of Panthera-like characters in A. pardinensis leads to reconsidering the ecological role of this species, whose hunting strategy was likely to be different from those of the living cheetah. Furthermore, we hypothesise that the high intraspecific variation in body size in A. pardinensis can be the result of sexual dimorphism, as observed today in all large-sized felids.
|Titolo:||Synchrotron radiation reveals the identity of the large felid from Monte Argentario (Early Pleistocene, Italy)|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2018|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01.01 Articolo in Rivista|