The Epivillafranchian and the arrival of pigs into Europe

Bienvenido Martínez-Navarro, Joan Madurell-Malapeira, Sergio Ros-Montoya, María Patrocinio Espigares, Tsegai Medin, Policarp Hortolà, Paul Palmqvist

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. Suids are found in Europe before and during the Olduvai magnetostratigraphic subchron, including the Fonelas P-1 site in the Guadix Basin (Andalusia, Southern Spain, ∼2.0 Ma), in which the remains have been ascribed to Potamochoerus magnus, and many other localities that record the presence of Sus strozzii (e.g., Saint Vallier and Senèze in France). However, there is no pig record in the biochronological range comprised between the post Tasso Faunal Unit, which marks the base of the Late Villafranchian (∼1.8 Ma), and their arrival in Western Europe at layer TE9 from Sima del Elefante, Atapuerca, Northern Spain (∼1.2 Ma), where pigs are recorded under the name of Sus sp., and at the sites of Untermassfeld (Germany), Vallonnet (France) and layer EVT12 of Vallparadís Estació (Spain), dated 1.1-1.0 Ma (MIS31), which suid remains have been ascribed to Sus scrofa priscus in the first site and to Sus sp. in the other two. Later, the genus Sus is recorded everywhere in Europe as a ubiquitous member of the Epivillafranchian/Galerian and posterior faunas. When pigs are in an ecosystem, they use to be abundant in the large mammal community given their opportunistic feeding behavior and high reproductive success. Their short gestation periods and elevated offspring numbers allow them to colonize new and varied environments and territories faster than other ungulates, which use to display a K-reproductive strategy, with a single pup per birth. For this reason, suids are usually preserved in the fossil assemblages after their dispersal and colonization of a geographic region. The arrival of suids phylogenetically related to Sus gr. scrofa into Europe marks the end of the Late Villafranchian and the beginning of the Epivillafranchian, which is approximately dated at ∼1.2 Ma. Given that suids are omnivorous, generalist mammals with bunodont teeth that do not tolerate very low temperatures, this suggests that their colonization of Europe can be related to a change in the ecosystems and climate. In addition, the arrival of suids postdates the earliest arrival of hominins into Western Europe, which is documented at the Orce sites of Barranco León-D and Fuente Nueva-3 (∼1.5-1.2 Ma). In these sites, rich faunal assemblages, abundant lithic artifacts and one human tooth have been unearthed after more than twenty years of excavations, but no evidence of pigs has yet been detected.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)131-138
    JournalQuaternary International
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2015


    • Dmanisi
    • Early pleistocene
    • Europe
    • Orce
    • Pirro nord
    • Suidae


    Dive into the research topics of 'The Epivillafranchian and the arrival of pigs into Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this