Problems of the taxon Archidiskodon meridionalis gromovi Garutt et Alexejeva, 1964 validity: diagnosis, stratigraphic spreading and paleoecology

V.S. Baygusheva and V.V. Titov

Proceedings of the Zoological Institute RAS, 2018, 322(3): 222–240  ·

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Elephants of the mammoth lineage are important for the biostratigraphy of the Early Pleistocene of Eurasia. For Eastern Europe and adjacent regions, a sequence of subspecies has been distinguished, which replaced each other during the Villafranchian. Archidiskodon meridionalis gromovi is the middle Villafranchian phase of these elephants’ evolution and a characteristic member of the Khapry faunal complex of Eastern Europe. This species was described based on a serial collection of teeth from the Khaprovian layers that are outcropping in the Northeast Sea of Azov Region in several sand pits and coastal cross sections (Khapry, Liventsovka, Morskaya 1 and others). The holotype of this species is a nearly complete skull with significantly worn teeth. Therefore, some of its tooth characteristics (lamellar frequency, enamel thickness) have a relatively progressive level and coincides with those of A. m. meridionalis lectotype. This fact led to attempts to replace the taxon A. m. gromovi to others, based on single finds or mixed small samples. The existing objections to the validity of this taxon are mainly related to the underestimation or reassessment of the range of variability of the samples’s characteristics from different localities. It is shown that the lectotype of A. m. meridionalis was chosen not very well, because the lamellar frequency and the enamel thickness of its teeth significantly differ from the average characteristics of the Late Villafranchian sample from the Upper Valdarno. Some authors, recognizing the existence of a primitive form of southern elephants, refer the Middle Villafranchian meridionaloid elephants to Early Villafranchian Mammuthus (=Archidiskodon) rumanus or to the typical Late Villafranchian M. (=A.) meridionalis. Attempts to abandon the use of Gromov’s elephant taxon leads to confusion in the taxonomy of the genus and the inability to use such definitions for biostratigraphic and paleogeographic structures. The work provides a renewed diagnosis of the subspecies A. m. gromovi. The range of variability and the average sampling rates from the Khaprovian layers of the Sea of Azov Region differ from those of the Late Villafranchian A. m. meridionalis from Upper Valdarno. A. m. gromovi is a valid taxon, and is characterized both by cranial and serial dental stratigraphically attached material.

Key words

holotype, meridionaloid elephant, range of variability, serial collection, mean values, Middle Villafranchian

Submitted July 8, 2018  ·  Accepted August 31, 2018  ·  Published September 26, 2018


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