A Pleistocene Fight Club revealed by the palaeobiological study of the Dama-like deer record from Pantalla (Italy)
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Here, we report on the exceptionally well-preserved deer record from the locality of Pantalla (central Italy), dated in the Early Pleistocene (ca. 2.1-2.0 million years ago). The fossils show a combination of characters that allows an unambiguous attribution to ‚Pseudodama‘ nestii, of which they represent one of the most informative collections to date. Our comparisons-also conducted through CT-based methods on endocranial structures-reveal that the cranial and postcranial skeleton of ‚P.‘ nestii displays a mosaic of intermediate characters between extant Dama and Cervus, but also that the affinities with Dama are prevalent. Some Cervus-like features especially in cranial morphology, can be interpreted as plesiomorphic characters supporting a basal position of ‚Pseudodama‘ among the Cervini. Interestingly, three bone anomalies are described in the two male crania of ‚P.‘ nestii from Pantalla and are interpreted as palaeotraumatological evidence resulting from different injuries suffered by the deer during their life. This allows opening a treasure trove of information on paleobiological aspects, including ontogeny and antler cycle and function.
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