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Pleistocene vertebrates from the Kyparíssia lignite mine, Megalopolis Basin, S. Greece: Testudines, Aves, Suiformes

Athanassiou, Athanassios, Michailidis, Dimitris, Vlachos, Evangelos, Tourloukis, Vangelis, Thompson, Nicholas, Harvati, Katerina
Quaternary international 2018 v.497 pp. 178-197
Aves, Elephantidae, Emys orbicularis, Hippopotamus, Pleistocene epoch, Sus scrofa, Testudo, basins, deer, fauna, forests, fossils, lacustrine sediments, lignite, mining, surface water, surveys, water birds, woodlands, Greece
The mining activities in the Middle Pleistocene lacustrine basin of Megalopolis (Peloponnesus, Greece) have exposed expanded sections of lacustrine sediments. In particular, the northernmost mine of Kyparíssia has yielded numerous vertebrate fossils, recovered during field surveys and small-scale rescue excavations. The stratified specimens indicate the presence of at least two fossiliferous horizons, which are stratigraphically closely situated. The fossils are generally widely dispersed, but they are much more abundant along the western margin of the palaeolake. Four sites showing denser concentration of fossils were located and partially excavated during the 2004–2008 fieldwork. An additional site was identified and excavated in 2012. The fossils were found in organic-rich sediments (mostly lignites), indicating that they were deposited during a warm and humid (i.e., interglacial) time period, in a richly vegetated environment. The recovered fauna is diverse, dominated by hippopotamuses, deer and elephants. The present study presents the chelonian, avian and suiform finds. The following taxa are recognised: Emys orbicularis, Testudo marginata, Sus scrofa, Hippopotamus antiquus, as well as a diverse sample of aquatic birds. This faunal composition indicates a temperate, woodland/forest environment, with continuous presence of a large water body, whilst the presence of the darter (Anhinga sp.) points to relatively warm conditions. Biochronologically it points to an age within the early part of the Middle Pleistocene.