Intervenant : Mecozzi Beniamino (Department of Earth Sciences, Paleofactory, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy)
A strong transformation in the Earth's climate state occurred during the Middle Pleistocene, caused by the establishment of highly non-linear system dominated by 100 ky periodicity with asymmetric glacial/interglacial cycles. This climatic revolution strongly impacted on Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems and vertebrate palaeocommunities. The Middle Pleistocene represents a crucial stage for the evolution of European mammals, a time when the majority of the modern taxa appeared in the continent for the first time.
Italian Peninsula occupies a strategic position in the heart of the Mediterranean Basin, playing a pivotal role in our comprehension of palaeoenvironmental dynamics during this crucial time.
Several Italian fossiliferous deposits, indeed, have been considered as a reference point for the biochronological and ecological study of the European Middle Pleistocene palaeocommunities.
During the last decades, new deposits have been discovered and studied, while others have been chronostratigraphically reassessed. These data add crucial information for the mammal evolutionary trend during the last 800 ka, especially for key bioevents.
The results of these recent studies and the ongoing research on large mammals from the Middle Pleistocene of the Italian Peninsula are here discussed, and placed in the wider framework of the European context.