A REVIEW OF URSUS MATERIAL FROM FONTANA RANUCCIO (MIDDLE PLEISTOCENE, CENTRAL ITALY): NEW INSIGHTS ON THE FIRST OCCURRENCE OF THE BROWN BEAR IN ITALY
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The Middle Pleistocene archaeo-palaeontological site of Fontana Ranuccio (Anagni, central Italy) yielded a rich faunal assemblage consisting of more than 20,000 fossil remains, including four human teeth and multiple bone and lithic tools. The Ursus specimens from Fontana Ranuccio were historically ascribed to Ursus deningeri and Ursus arctos although a formal study has never been carried out. In this work, we have described for the first time all the Ursus material from Fontana Ranuccio reassessing the taxonomical attributions and discuss the first occurrence of the brown bear in the Italian Peninsula. Biometrical and morphological analyses confirm the presence of Ursus deningeri but, due the scarcity of diagnostic features and/or their preservation, some isolated specimens have been ascribed to Ursus sp. The results of this work allow to reconsider the earliest occurrence of U. arctos, attested in the Italian Peninsula to the late Middle Pleistocene site of Bucine.
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