Darío Fidalgo, Joan Madurell-Malapeira, Roberta Martino, Luca Pandolfi, Antonio Rosas

An Updated Review of The Quaternary Hippopotamus Fossil Records from the Iberian Peninsula

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes

This work presents a comprehensive review of the Quaternary fossil records of hippopotamuses from the Iberian Peninsula, unveiling biogeographical insights of global significance. The results presented herein include the inference of a delayed arrival of Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus antiquus) populations onto the Iberian Peninsula compared to other European Mediterranean regions, with an estimated age of ca. 1.7 Ma, in contrast to 2.1–2.2 Ma elsewhere. Moreover, we hypothesize the possibility of a short-lived coexistence between H. antiquus and Hippopotamus amphibius, close to the extinction of the former taxon (ca. 0.45 Ma). The local extinction of all hippopotamus populations on the Iberian Peninsula between MIS 5 and 3 is suggested here, mirroring proposals made for the Italian peninsula. Notable aspects of this fossil record include the abundance of specimens, previously undocumented anatomical elements, and partially complete individuals with articulated body segments. The remains analyzed herein also present different ontogenetic stages and sexual dimorphism. Moreover, the presence of specimens displaying paleopathologies provides valuable insights into ethological and paleoecological studies. The exceptional record of at least three events of human exploitation of hippopotamus stands out, with this being a rarity in the broader context of the archaeological and paleontological record of the European continent.

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