The paleoenvironment of Hispanopithecus laietanus as revealed by paleobotanical evidence from the Late Miocene of Can Llobateres 1 (Catalonia, Spain)

Josep Marmi, Isaac Casanovas-Vilar, Josep M. Robles, Salvador Moyà-Solà, David M. Alba

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25 Citations (Scopus)


The early Vallesian site of Can Llobateres 1 (Vallès-Penedès Basin, Catalonia, Spain) is one of the richest localities of the European Late Miocene, having yielded the most complete remains of the fossil great ape Hispanopithecus laietanus (Primates: Hominidae). Fossil plant remains had been previously reported from this site but mostly remained unpublished. Here we describe an assemblage of plant megaremains recovered in 2010, which provides valuable paleoenvironmental data. This assemblage consists of a mixture of parautochthonous and allochthonous detached organs (leaves, stems, reproductive structures) deposited in marshy areas. The source vegetation mainly consisted of abundant reeds, palms, evergreen laurels and figs that probably grew in or near the marsh boundaries or nearby riparian forests. This environmental picture is consistent with the mammalian fauna, which shows the prevalence of humid forested environments, although somewhat more open woodlands might have been present away from the wet areas. The occurrence of mega-mesothermal taxa, together with the absence of deciduous elements, is consistent with a subtropical to warm-temperate climate. Within this mosaic environment, H. laietanus would have preferred the more humid and forested habitats, which probably were still quite common in the Vallès-Penedès during the early Vallesian. Such habitats would have provided a continuous ripe fruit supply throughout the year to these frugivorous great apes. Paleobotanical data from older sites of the same area and nearby basins show that the zonal vegetation was a warm-temperate mixed forest defined by evergreen laurels, together with leguminous trees and shrubs as well as a significant proportion of deciduous elements. Tropical and subtropical taxa would have been restricted to humid areas in the lowlands. From the late Vallesian onwards, many of these taxa disappeared from the Vallès-Penedès, whereas deciduous trees became dominant in the forested areas and wetlands, thus likely having driven Hispanopithecus to extinction in the study area. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-423
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • Dryopithecus
  • Hominidae
  • Hominoidea
  • Paleobotany
  • Paleoecology
  • Vallès-Penedès Basin


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