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Deinogalerix: a giant hedgehog from the Miocene

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Author(s): Boris VILLIER

Journal: Museologia Scientifica e Naturalistica
ISSN 1824-2707

Volume: 6;
Start page: 93;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: insularity | evolution | anatomy

ABSTRACT
During the Miocene the Abruzzo/Apulia region (Italy), isolated from the continent, was the theatre of the evolution of a vertebrate ecosystem in insular context. At the late Miocene the protagonists of this ecosystem called “Mikrotia fauna” show a high endemic speciation level with spectacular giant and dwarf species of mammals and birds. Most of the remains of this peculiar fauna are found exclusively in the “Terre rosse” of Gargano, except for the oldest genus: Deinogalerix and Hoplitomeryx, also found at Scontrone. Deinogalerix is one of the most uncommon forms of the “Mikrotia fauna”. It’s the largest Erinaceidea ever lived. Deinogalerix was described for the first by Freudenthal (1972) then by Butler (1980). Today the five species yet described are under discussion cause of the highitraspecific variations in an insular evolution context. In this study we valuated the information that could bring the new discoveries of Deinogalerix remains. The work was divided into three main parts: the preparation of the material, the drawing reconstructions and the anatomical description. The most important specimen was the second sub-complet skeleton ever found. We gave the most objective anatomical description for futures comparison with the first skeleton from a different specie. We put the finger on new juvenile features and on the relation between the growth of Deinogalerix and his feeding behaviours. We also isolate some problematic specimens at this time never described. In the future this new material will help us in the understanding of the evolution history of this giant Hedgehog.

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