Palaeo Vertebrate Lab

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Research programs


During the last few years three main programs have been developed:


1)      Faunal changes and palaeobiodiversity of Italian vertebrate assemblages during the last glacial cycles. Project leader: Prof. A. Kotsakis. This programme, supported by grants of the Italian Ministry of Instruction, University and Research (MIUR), is articulated in four Research Units: a) Ferrara University Unit, Team leader Prof. B. Sala: Climatic changes inferred by variations in theriological associations in northern Italy during the last glacial stages; b) University of Rome “La Sapienza” Unit, Team leader Prof. C. Petronio: Changes in the Middle and Late Pleistocene mammal faunal assemblages in central-southern Italy; c) University Roma Tre Unit, Team leader Prof. A. Kotsakis: Small vertebrate palaeobiodiversity and faunal turnovers in central and southern Italy during the last six isotopic stages; d) Universities of Messina and Palermo Unit, Team leader Prof. L. Bonfiglio: Faunal turnover in Sicily during the last two glacial cycles. The programme was concluded in November 2005.



a) left/right mandibular ramus of the alpine marmot, Marmota marmota (Linnaeus), collected in southern Latium (Central Italy). During the cold phases of Late Pleistocene marmots colonized the alpine prairies of Central Italy. L = XXX cm.



b) First lower molar of Cricetus cricetus (Linnaeus), from Ponte San Pietro (Northern Latium).This speciesXXXXXX. L = XXX mm.


2) The insular Plio-Pleistocene vertebrate assemblages of Monte Tuttavista (Orosei, Eastern Sardinia, Italy). Project leaders: Dr. M. Arca and Dr. C. Tuveri of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici per le Provincie di Sassari e Nuoro. The programme, supported by grants of the Italian  Ministry for Cultural Activities (MBAC), is articulated in four Research Units: Nuoro, team leaders Dr. M. Arca and Dr. C. Tuveri; University of Florence, team leaders Prof. L. Rook and Prof. D. Torre; University of Rome “La Sapienza”, team leader Prof. M.R. Palombo; University Roma Tre, team leader Prof. A. Kotsakis. To the University Roma Tre Unit is assigned the: “Study of the Plio-Pleistocene microvertebrates of Monte Tuttavista (Orosei, Eastern Sardinia, Italy)”. The programme is near to its conclusion.


a)  Right mandible bearing M/1 and M/2 (Holotype) of Microtus (Tyrrhenicola) sondaari Marcolini, Tuveri, Arca, & Kotsakis, a new endemic species from the Early Pleistocene of Orosei (qarry X g3, Sardinia, Italy). (From Marcolini et al., in press)


b) SEM pictures of first lower and third upper molars of Tyrrhenicola, endemic arvicolid of Sardinia and Corse, collected in several fissure fillings of Monte Tuttavista (Orosei, Sardinia, Italy). T. sondaari is a species of late Early Pleistocene; T. henseli range from Middle Pleistocene to Holocene.

T. sondaari: a-b: quarry X g3, ORX3ty259 right M/1, ORX3ty263, right M/1; c-d: quarry X g4, ORX4ty333 right M/1, ORX4ty343, right M/1.

T. henselli: e-f: quarry X g5, ORX5ty349, right M/1, ORX5ty357, right M/1; g-h: quarry XI dic2001, ORXI2001ty365, left M/1,ORXI2001ty362, left M/1; i-j: quarry IX prolago, ORIXprty186, left M/1, ORIXprty193, right M/1; k-l: quarry XI rondone, ORXIroty203, right M/1, ORXIroty218, right M/1; m-n: quarry XI g3, ORXI3ty301, left M/1, ORXI3ty302, left M/1; o-p: quarry XI canide, ORXIcty323, left M/1, ORXIcty327, left M/1; q-r: quarry VI banco6, ORVI6ty285, right M/1, ORVI6ty288, left M/1; s: quarry X g3, ORX3ty376, M3 sinistro; t: cava X g4, ORX4ty391, M3 sinistro; u: cava X g5, ORX5ty411, left M3/; v: quarry XI g3, ORXI3ty423, right M3/; w: quarry IX prolago, ORIXprty451, right M3/; x: quarry VI banco6, ORVI6ty439, left M3/. Scale = 500µ. (From Marcolini et al., in press).



c) Third lower left/right premolar of Prolagus figaro López Martínez, an endemic ochotonid of Sardinia from the Early Pleistocene of Orosei (fissure xxxx) (Sardinia, Italy).


3) Evolution and palaeobiogeography of micromammals in the Mediterranean area during Cenozoic. Project leader: Prof. A. Kotsakis. This long term programme is supported by grants of the Department of Geological Sciences of Univeristy Roma Tre.




Ph.D. and M.S.


In our Lab the research work of young people is fundamental. Since its foundation in 1997 ten Ph.D. and eight M.S. have been concluded or are currently in progress.


Ph.D. degree


1) ARGENTI Patrizia (1999) – La biocronologia dei roditori del Plio-Pleistocene dell’Umbria e l’evoluzione del genere Apodemus (Muridae, Rodentia) in Italia. (University of Perugia).

2) PAVIA Marco (2001) – Le avifaune pleistoceniche dell’Italia meridionale. (University of Genova).

3) MARCOLINI Federica (2002) – Continental Lower Valdarno rodent biochronology and two new methods for the systematics of Mimomys (Arvicolidae, Rodentia). (University of Pisa).

4) BARISONE Giancarlo (2003) – Neogene and Quaternary Castor (Castoridae, Rodentia) of central and western Europe: systematics, palaeobiogeography and patterns of evolution. (University Roma Tre).

5) RAIA Pasquale (2004) – The evolutionary ecology of large mammal communities of Italy during the Ice Age. (University of Molise).

6) ANGELONE Chiara (2005) – Systematics revisions of genus Prolagus (Lagomorpha, Mammalia) in Italy and in western Mediterranean islands: new systematic tools, biochronology and palaeobiogeography. (University Roma Tre).

7) DI CANZIO Emanuele (2005) – Record a micromammiferi dell’area mediterranea e loro relazioni con la ciclicità climatica ad alta frequenza dell’ultimo glaciale. (University of Modena).

8) PIRAS Paolo (2006) – Theorethical morphology of crocodile skull by mean of 3 and 2-dimensional geometric morphometrics. of crocodilians: case studies, systematics and palaeobiogeographic implications. (University Roma Tre).

10) MELORO Carlo (2007) - Italian Plio-Pleistocene large carnivores: functional morphology and macroecology. (University "Federico II" of Naples).


 * Co-tutor Prof. Nieves López Martínez, Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

# Co-tutor Prof. Angela Delgado Buscalioni , Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.


M.S. degree


1) BARISONE Giancarlo (1995) – Il genere Castor Linnaeus, 1758 (Castoridae, Rodentia, Mammalia) nel Plio-Pleistocene dell’Italia.

2) MARCOLINI Federica (1996) – Stratigrafia dei sedimenti continentali pleistocenici del Valdarno inferiore sulla base dei depositi a micromammiferi.

3) ANGELONE Chiara (1999) – Micromammiferi del sito pliocenico di Mandriola (Penisola del Sinis, Sardegna).

4) PIRAS Paolo (2001) – Studio di un gavialide del Miocene inferiore del Pakistan sud-orientale.

5) CURCIO Maria Teresa (2002) – Analisi della variabilità di M1 in popolazioni fossili e attuali di Terricola savii (de Sélys Longchamps, 1838).

6) TATA Cristiana (2003) – Fauna a chirotteri del Villafranchiano superiore del Gargano (Puglia, Italia meridionale).

7) MAROZZI Luca (2003) – Ctenodactylidae (Rodentia, Mammalia) del Miocene inferiore e medio dell’area mediterranea: sistematica, evoluzione, paleobiogeografia.

8) LUCCI Federico (2006) – Morfometria geometrica della mandibola dei felidi: confronto fra forme fossili e viventi.