doi: 10.4154/gc.2010.18

The palaeoecological signifi cance of the Pleistocene mammalian fauna from Veternica Cave, Croatia. Revision of the lagomorpha, canidae, mustelidae and felidae

Preston T. Miracle, Dejana Brajković


Revision of Upper Pleistocene lagomorph, canid, mustelid, and felid remains from Veternica Cave, Croatia, eliminates previously-identifi ed “cold-adapted” taxa like mountain hare (


Lepus timidus), arctic fox (Alopex lagopus), and wolverine (Gulo gulo), and “steppe-adapted” animals like pika (Ochotona sp.) from the faunal assemblage. Our revision does not support an interpretation of signifi cant climatic oscillations during the deposition of layers associated with MIS 2, 3, and 4. The removal of “cold-adapted” taxa suggests that either remains were deposited only during ore temperate periods within MIS 3 and 2 or that cold oscillations were not strongly expressed in northern Croatia. The large mammal fauna is remarkably stable in composition over time. A wide range of environments – open, forested, wetland, and rocky – were usually present in the area surrounding Veternica, and conditions in the region appear to have been broadly temperate. This apparent stability could be owing to one or more of the following factors: A) hominins and other animals preferentially used specifi c sites or the region during warm phases, B) sedimentation and erosion have created a bias for warm phases, C) climatic oscillations in the region were less marked than previously thought, D) local factors of microclimate and topography buffered faunal communities from climatic oscillations, and E) animals had wider temperature/precipitation tolerances than previously thought.


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