Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Giant Hedgehog Skeleton Found From Miocene of Southern Italy

A new skeleton of the giant hedgehog Deinogalerix from the Miocene of Gargano, southern Italy


1. Boris Villier (a)
2. Giorgio Carnevale (a)


a. Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Universit`a degli Studi di Torino, Via Valperga Caluso, 35 I-10125, Torino, Italy,


The giant Miocene erinaceid Deinogalerix from the Gargano paleoisland, southern Italy, represents one of the most spectacular cases of insular adaptation among terrestrial mammals. The type species of this genus, Deinogalerix koenigswaldi, was described for the first time early in the 1970s based on a nearly complete skeleton and the limits and composition of the genus were subsequently defined based on a large number of disarticulated remains. Recent excavations in the Gargano area led to the discovery of a second partially complete skeleton of Deinogalerix koenigswaldi. This material, which is described herein, consists of a well-preserved nearly complete skull and a large portion of the postcranial skeleton. As a result of its excellent preservation, this material allowed the description of previously unrecognized morphological features of the braincase, tympanic region, and forelimb. Finally, based on a comparative analysis of the skeletal features of Deinogalerix, its affinities within the Erinaceidae have been discussed. Several features observed on the skeleton documented in this paper conclusively demonstrate that this giant hedgehog is a member of the subfamily Galericinae and, more particularly, of the extinct tribe Galericini.

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