Insights into Mediterranean aridity during the Late Pleistocene using mammalian tooth crown height of large herbivores: the case of Grotta del Romito (Calabria, Italy)

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


The Late Pleistocene was characterised by abrupt shifts in climate in Europe, driven by a range of forcing factors. Evidence of the spread of semi-arid environments is highlighted by the westward migrations of arid adapted mammals. However, relating these faunal migrations to the wider unstable climatic regime is hampered by a current lack of quantitative precipitation estimates at a representative spatial scale and within a robust dating framework. Recent work on both modern herbivores and Neogene fossils has revealed the utility of large herbivore hypsodonty (tooth crown height) as a method of quantifying past and present precipitation. In order to improve the reliability of this method for quantifying present and past environmental variables, a new, geographically extensive and species diverse modern training set using well-provenanced museum specimens has been created. The first application of this new understanding to fossil measurements from Late Pleistocene sites across the Mediterranean is presented here.

Measurements were taken from a number of well-dated sites: Abric Romaní (Spain; 40-70 kyr BP), Teixoneres (Spain; 14-100 kyr BP), Le Portel-Ouest (France; MIS 5-3), Grotta del Romito (Italy; c. 24-14 kyr), Qafzeh (Israel; 93 kyr and 31-25 kyr) and Tabun (Israel; c. 300-50 kyr). Here, we show how the mean hypsodonty index of the mammal communities throughout sequences at Grotta del Romito varies through time, potentially reflecting local or regional aridity patterns. Comparisons are made with pre-existing palaeoenvironmental information from the site to validate what is seen in the hypsodonty index changes, as well as seeing if abrupt changes in palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic proxies are reflected in our measurements.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019
EventINQUA 2019 - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 25 Jul 201931 Jul 2019


ConferenceINQUA 2019
Internet address


  • hypsodonty
  • teeth
  • Late Pleistocene
  • Mediterranean
  • climate
  • Italy
  • herbivores
  • modelling
  • Palaeontology
  • Palaeoclimatic reconstruction

Cite this