Institute Catala Of Paleontologia

Barcelona, Spain

Institute Catala Of Paleontologia

Barcelona, Spain
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Blasco R.,Gibraltar Museum | Finlayson C.,Gibraltar Museum | Rosell J.,Rovira i Virgili University | Rosell J.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | And 6 more authors.
Scientific Reports | Year: 2014

Feral Pigeons have colonised all corners of the Earth, having developed a close association with humans and their activities. The wild ancestor of the Feral Pigeon, the Rock Dove, is a species of rocky habitats, nesting typically on cliff ledges and at the entrance to large caves. This habit would have brought them into close contact with cave-dwelling humans, a relationship usually linked to the development of dwellings in the Neolithic. We show that the association between humans and Rock Doves is an ancient one with its roots in the Palaeolithic and predates the arrival of modern humans into Europe. At Gorham's Cave, Gibraltar, the Neanderthals exploited Rock Doves for food for a period of over 40 thousand years, the earliest evidence dating to at least 67 thousand years ago. We show that the exploitation was not casual or sporadic, having found repeated evidence of the practice in different, widely spaced, temporal contexts within the cave. Our results point to hitherto unappreciated capacities of the Neanderthals to exploit birds as food resources on a regular basis. More so, they were practising it long before the arrival of modern humans and had therefore invented it independently.


Villalba-Breva S.,University of Barcelona | Martin-Closas C.,University of Barcelona | Marmi J.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia | Gomez B.,University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 | Fernandez-Marrow M.T.,Complutense University of Madrid
Geologica Acta | Year: 2012

The Lower Maastrichtian of Fumanya and neighbouring localities of the Vallcebre syncline (Eastern Pyrenees, Catalonia, Spain) provide the first taphonomic evidence for the hypothesis that cheirolepidiacean conifers were significant precursors of Maastrichtian Pyrenean coal. Most Frenelopsis-nch lignite beds do not bear rootlet marks, suggesting that the original peat was detrital. Sedimentological and taphonomic evidence indicates deposition on the margins of a lagoon after the transport of the cheirolepidiacean remains by flotation. The same parautochthonous assemblage includes complete impressions of Sabalites longirhachis leaves and large impressions of logs attributed to the same palm trees. Other parautochthonous or allochthonous plant megaremains include extremely rare cycadalean and monocot leaves and abundant minute angiosperm seeds. Rootlet marks associated with thin lignite beds occur at the top of some charophyte limestones. The charophyte association, dominated by in situ accumulation of Peckichara and Microchara gyrogonites, suggests that these limestones were deposited in shallow, freshwater lakes and that the corresponding peat mires were limnic rather than paralic in nature. The botanical affinity of plant remains associated with these root-bearing lignites is uncertain. Palynological analysis showed abundant bisaccates, with less abundant fern spores and freshwater algal oospores. Locally, the abundant rootlet marks were associated with large brush-like rooting structures attributed to Sabalites longirhachis palms. Our results show that, at the beginning of the Maastrichtian, cheirolepidiacean conifers were still significant peatproducing plants, although, unlike analogous Lower Cretaceous ones, they shared this role with rare angiosperms, such as palms.


Del Cerro I.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Marmi J.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia | Ferrando A.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Chashchin P.,Russian Academy of Sciences | And 2 more authors.
Zoologica Scripta | Year: 2010

The Eurasian badgers (Meles spp.) have a fairly widespread distribution in the Palearctic region and their great morphological variability throughout the vast geographic area has nourished an intense debate about the classification of this taxon. Therefore, the aim of this study was to clarify controversies in Eurasian badger taxonomy by means of a new molecular phylogeny. One-hundred and seventeen individuals of Eurasian badgers from 18 countries throughout Eurasia were sequenced for up to 3257 bp of nuclear DNA over six loci (ACTC, BGN, CFTR, CHRNA1, TS and TTR) and 512 bp of the mitochondrial DNA control region. Statistical and phylogenetic analyses for combined nDNA, mtDNA and the total-evidence data clearly showed a strong genetic differentiation in four well-supported clades, three of which corresponded to allopatric badger species previously defined according to morphological data: Meles meles Linnaeus, 1758 in Europe; Meles leucurus Hodgson, 1847 in the continental part of Asia, except the south-west part; and M. anakuma Temminck, 1844 in Japan. Up to now, the fourth clade, made up of individuals from south-west Asia, had been considered as a subspecies. Supported by several pieces of morphological evidence, the new phylogeny revealed that it is necessary to revise the current taxonomic classification of Meles spp. and suggested that the badgers from south-west Asia should be recognised as a separate species, being renamed M. canescens Blanford, 1875. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.


Furio M.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia | Angelone C.,University of Turin | Angelone C.,Third University of Rome
Neues Jahrbuch fur Geologie und Palaontologie - Abhandlungen | Year: 2010

Capo Mannu D1 (often cited as Mandriola) is a key site to reconstruct Sardinian PlioQuaternary faunal evolution and origin. After 35 years of the discovery of the site, the insectivore component of the Capo Mannu D1 fauna has been studied resulting in the identification of Parasorex depereti, Asoriculus gibberodon, cf. Soricini indet. and Talpa cf. minor. P. depereti and cf. Soricini indet. are not present in younger Corso-Sardinian assemblages. On the other hand, A. gibberodon and Talpa cf. minor are the oldest known possible ancestors recorded so far of the Late PlioceneQuaternary Corso-Sardinian endemic "Nesiotites" spp. and Talpa tyrrhenica. The insectivores from capo Mannu D1 are not affected by modifications due to the permanence in an insular domain and resemble MN 14-15 insectivore assemblages of SW Europe. Their arrival in Sardinia may have occurred at the Early/Middle Pliocene boundary in concomitance with R. azzarolii, a murid from Capo Mannu D1 that appears very slightly modified with respect to its continental ancestors. © 2010 Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany.


De Esteban-Trivigno S.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia | Kohler M.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia
Mammalian Biology | Year: 2011

Body mass is an important attribute of organisms. For extinct species, body mass is usually predicted from allometric equations relating body mass with some variable(s) from the skeleton in extant species. However, even for extant species, individual associated body mass data are scarce, and mean body mass values taken from literature are commonly used when developing regressions. In this paper we evaluate the correlation between three external body measurements and the body mass of bovids with associated body mass, in order to find those variables adequate for body mass estimation in this family. The importance of using individuals with associated body weight to develop regressions was analyzed, as well as the use of Phylogenetic Generalized Least Squares (PGLS) and weighting procedures.Six equations were obtained with those variables suitable for body mass estimation (head-body length and thorax circumference), three by means of OLS and three by PGLS. Both phylogenetic and non-phylogenetic procedures render the same mean prediction error. The use of weighting procedures does not improve the predictive capacity of the equations. The percentage of prediction error (%PE) was lower than in previous works in ungulates (10-14%). The three equations were repeated with literature body mass data, and in all cases the mean %PE was around 50% higher than with associated body mass data. The multiple regression is strongly recommended for body mass estimation, when both variables are available. Body mass was estimated for three bovid species: Bos primigenius, Myotragus balearicus and Pseudoryx nghetinhensis. © 2011 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde.


Abel R.,Imperial College London | Macho G.A.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia
Journal of Anatomy | Year: 2011

Trabecular architecture forms an important structural component of bone and, depending on the loading conditions encountered during life, is organised in a systematic, bone- and species-specific manner. However, recent studies suggested that gross trabecular arrangement (e.g. density distribution), like overall bone shape, is predetermined and/or affected by factors other than loading and perhaps less plastic than commonly assumed. To explore this issue further, the present cross-sectional ontogenetic study investigated morphological changes in external bone shape in relation to changes in trabecular bundle orientation and anisotropy. Radiographs of 73 modern human ilia were assessed using radiographic and Geometric Morphometric techniques. The study confirmed the apparently strong predetermination of trabecular bundle development, i.e. prior to external loading, although loading clearly also had an effect on overall morphology. For example, the sacro-pubic bundle, which follows the path of load transmission from the auricular surface to the acetabulum, is well defined and shows relatively high levels of anisotropy from early stages of development; the situation for the ischio-iliac strut is similar. However, while the sacro-pubic strut retains a constant relationship with the external landmarks defining the joint surfaces, the ischio-iliac bundle changes its relationship with the external landmarks and becomes aligned with the iliac tubercle only during late adolescence/early adulthood. It is tentatively proposed that the rearrangement of the ischio-iliac strut may reflect a change in locomotor pattern and/or a shift in positional behavior with increasing mass after growth of external bone dimensions has slowed/ceased. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Anatomy © 2011 Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland.


Vila B.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia | Riera V.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Bravo A.M.,Instituto Geologico Y Minero Of Espana | Oms O.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | And 3 more authors.
Cretaceous Research | Year: 2011

The Late Cretaceous deposits of the continental Tremp Formation in the Vallcebre Syncline (South-eastern Pyrenees) provide an extensive egg record of dinosaurs. The parataxonomical study and analysis of multiple eggshell samples, the precise stratigraphical control of several sections and the time calibration of the abundant egg levels enable the establishment of a robust oospecies succession. The successive occurrence of three megaloolithid oospecies (Megaloolithus siruguei-Megaloolithus mamillare-Megaloolithus sp.) in the Early and Late Maastrichtian is well correlated with the magnetic polarity time scale throughout the chron 31. The replacement of Megaloolithus siruguei with Megaloolithus mamillare occurs around the reversal of chrons 31r-31n. A comparison with oospecies successions from Arc basin localities (France) allows the age calibration for such oospecies replacement to be confirmed. This age refinement implies that some of the stated boundaries for the proposed oospecies assemblages may change and that an in-depth revision of the age and magnetic calibration of some south European egg localities is required. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


In the past, xenarthrans had a broad morphological diversity. However, due to the fact that extant species are dissimilar to most of the extinct ones, few ecomorphological studies have been carried out on this group. The aim of this work is to infer the diet of some extinct xenarthrans species by means of taxon free shape patterns related to diet, working with a taxonomically wide comparative sample. A geometric morphometrics analysis was developed on the lateral view of mandibles of xenarthrans, ungulates and species of other orders. Combining the results of principal component and canonical variate analyses, it was possible to characterize the shape of insectivorous species, which show a high degree of homoplasy. Omnivorous species share some morphological characteristics with herbivorous species with functional canines or high quantities of fruit in their diet. Armadillos show an extremely reduced coronoid process whereas ruminants have a much developed angular process. It was not possible to infer diet in gliptodonts, which behave as outliers in all analyses. The results obtained for most of the ground sloths and Vassallia maxima agree with those of previous studies on these species, thus supporting an ecomorphological approach on extinct Folivora. However, the PCA results suggest an omnivorous/frugivorous diet for Scelidotherium sp. and Thalassocnus natans, although they have been traditionally described as herbivorous. New analyses including the skull are needed to confirm this diet in both cases.


The scarce number of extant representatives of the Order Xenarthra offers a poor idea of the large morphological diversity that existed in the past. Because of this, the interpretation of the ecology of those extinct species is problematic. In order to understand the relationship between diet and habitat, the variability of the lower jaw of different mammals (mainly ungulates and xenarthrans) is analysed in this work by means of geometric morphometric methods. Using principal component and discriminant analyses, the main objective of this contribution is to find taxon-free ecomorphological patterns, which could be applied to extinct xenarthrans with the aim of inferring their ecology. Most part of the variance is due to the phylogenetic factor. However, part of the variability can be interpreted in ecological terms. Because of their characteristic craniodental morphology, glyptodonts occupy their own particular area of the morphospace. Vassallia maxima is proposed as a mix-feeder of mixed habitats, which agrees with previous results. For those sloth species which lower jaw is more similar to that of ungulates, discriminant analysis renders similar results to those obtained in the literature. On the contrary, sloth species with a more different morphology show results more coherent with previous studies by means of principal component analysis. The discriminant functions are not suitable to infer habitat in the Pleistocene mylodontids. Because ruminant species have a mandibular angle proportionally more developed for all diets, discriminant functions are not totally independent of phylogeny.


Piga G.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Piga G.,University of Sassari | Santos-Cubedo A.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia | Brunetti A.,University of Sassari | And 4 more authors.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology | Year: 2011

A combined investigation by X-ray fluorescence (XRF), Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), Raman spectroscopy and powder X-ray Diffraction (XRD), supplemented with the Rietveld analysis, was conducted on sixty Spanish dinosaur bone specimens from Upper Jurassic/Lower Cretaceous to Upper Cretaceous age to investigate taphonomy and diagenetic processes. The diffraction approach assessed in all specimens the presence of fluorapatite at various levels of percentage as the mineral phase constituting the fossil bone. In addition to fluorapatite, calcite and quartz were also found as main secondary phases in many specimens. The infrared spectra of fossil bones show significant changes in the phosphate and carbonate band intensity with respect to a non-fossil bone. Conversely, the X-ray fluorescence spectra turned out to be mainly dominated by the presence of Ca, obviously accompanied by phosphorus. Simultaneously, other elements accompanying Ca, such as Fe and Sr were found at significant concentration levels.A considerable amount of Fe and Sr ions were incorporated in the structure of fluorapatite, but when their concentration was found elevated in the fluorescence spectrum, the diffraction data revealed the presence of goethite (FeOOH) and celestite (SrSO4) phases. While the X-ray diffraction phase analysis also revealed the presence of kaolinite, dolomite, barite and gypsum, in some fluorescence spectra further elements like Y, As, Pb, Ti, Mn, Cr, Cu, Zn were present in concentration at trace level. The introduction/substitution of new elements with the infiltration of new phases due to diagenesis is also affecting to various extent the Raman and FT-IR spectra with modification of some bands and/or the appearance of new bands. The average crystallite size of the "apatitic" constituent phase was found to vary from a minimum of ca. 183Å to an upper level of 2107Å. No systematic relation between apatite crystallite size and age of the dinosaur bones was found that suggests a high variability of diagenetic processes affecting the growth of bone crystallites even in the same site. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

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