Latest Early Pleistocene wolf-like canids from the Iberian Peninsula

Saverio Bartolini Lucenti*, David M. Alba, Lorenzo Rook, Salvador Moyà-Solà, Joan Madurell-Malapeira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Several species of the genus Canis (Carnivora: Canidae) have been recorded from the European Early Pleistocene, but the phylogenetic relationships among them and in relation to extant members of this genus are still unclear. This is particularly true for the medium-sized and wolf-like extinct species Canis mosbachensis. It has been considered by many researchers as a descendant of the larger Canis etruscus and as a likely putative ancestor of extant wolves (Canis lupus). Other scholars, in contrast, have advocated instead for a closer relationship between C. mosbachensis and the extinct Canis arnensis, and even a close relationship between C. mosbachensis and C. lupus has been questioned. Here we describe the previously unpublished medium-sized Canis remains from the late Early Pleistocene site of Vallparadís Estació, along with additional new Canis material from the roughly coeval site of Cueva Victoria (both in the Iberian Peninsula), and compare them qualitatively and morphometrically with both extant and extinct species of this genus. The described material most closely resembles in craniodental size and shape the remains from Central and Southern Europe that have been previously assigned to C. mosbachensis, to which they are hence formally attributed. The excellent preservation of the newly described specimens (which include the most complete skull of this taxon) enables the description of features previously unknown for this species, which further support a close phylogenetic link with living wolves. Based on the described material, we review the role played by C. mosbachensis in the evolutionary history of European fossil canids, and conclude that this extinct species is most closely related to C. lupus and other closely-allied species, such as Canis anthus and Canis latrans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-25
Number of pages14
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2017


  • Canis mosbachensis
  • Cueva Victoria
  • Evolution
  • Fossil canids
  • Pleistocene
  • Spain
  • Taxonomy
  • Vallparadís


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