The taxonomic status and biochronological implications of new finds of Oreopithecus from Baccinello (Tuscany, Italy)

L. Rook, T. Harrison, B. Engesser

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Several species of mammals endemic to the late Miocene faunas of the Maremma region of Tuscany in Italy are known to have undergone a significant degree of morphological change during the time interval between the deposition of V-1 and V-2 horizons at Baccinello. This raises the interesting question of whether or not Oreopithecus, which occurs in association with both V-1 and V-2 faunas, exhibits corresponding morphological change or taxonomic differentiation through time. Detailed comparisons of the Oreopithecus sample from Baccinello V-1 (and from the biostratigraphically equivalent sites of Ribolla, Casteani and Montemassi) with the type material of O. bambolii from the site of Monte Bamboli, tentatively correlated with Baccinello V-2, indicate that there are no morphological or metrical differences by which to distinguish them. The recovery of a small sample of Oreopithecus specimens from the Trasubbie River valley near Baccinello, derived from horizons stratigraphically above those yielding a V-1 fauna, allows, for the first time, direct comparisons of material from different strata within a single depositional basin. The material consists of a newly discovered partial mandible (IGF 4883V) from the F1 horizon, and four isolated teeth, a malar fragment, and a patella from the V-2 horizon. IGF 4883V is very similar to Oreopithecus specimens from Baccinello V-1, although it differs in having a more molariform P3 and relatively larger cheek teeth. However, given the extent of variation in Oreopithecus, and the fact that the mandible almost certainly belonged to a male individual, these minor differences do not seem to be significant, and are best interpreted as being due to intraspecific variation. This conclusion is further supported by comparisons with Baccinello V-2 specimens, which appear to be indistinguishable from the large sample of specimens from Baccinello V-I. Although the sample of Oreopithecus specimens from horizons located above V-1 remains small, there is sufficient material to conclude that there is no evidence of morphological change or taxonomic differentiation in Oreopithecus during the time interval of about 2 Ma between Baccinello V-1 and V-2.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)3-27
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of Human Evolution
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 1996


    • Baccinello
    • Dentition
    • Fauna
    • Late Miocene
    • Mandible
    • Maremma
    • Oreopithecus bambolii
    • Stratigraphy

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Anthropology


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