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The westernmost Asian record of pythonids (Serpentes): the presence of Python in a Miocene hominoid locality of Anatolia


Georgalis, Georgios L; Mayda, Serdar; Alpagut, Berna; Şarbak, Ayşegül; Güler, Gülşah (2020). The westernmost Asian record of pythonids (Serpentes): the presence of Python in a Miocene hominoid locality of Anatolia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 40(3):e1781144.

Abstract

Pythonids are fascinating extant reptiles comprising exclusively non-venomous Old-World taxa and including some of the largest known snakes (Murphy and Henderson, 1997). Being thermophilous reptiles, they are distributed in tropical and sub-tropical areas in sub-Saharan Africa, southern and southeastern Asia, Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea, and Australia (Schleip and O’Shea, 2010; Wallach et al., 2014; Head, 2015). The most wellknown genus is Python, which recent molecular studies have nevertheless suggested partitioning into different genera (e.g., Rawlings et al., 2008; Reynolds et al., 2014). The fossil record of Python (sensu lato) is not adequately known; however, it still denotes a more extensive geographic distribution with the genus reaching Europe (Römer, 1870; Rage, 1976, 1984, 2003; Ivanov, 2000; Szyndlar and Rage, 2003; Head, 2015). Accordingly, in Asia the genus achieved a broader geographic distribution during the Neogene and Quaternary, with sporadic finds having been described during the past 130 years (Lydekker, 1888; Noetling, 1901; Hoffstetter, 1964; Rage, 1982; Rage et al., 2001; Head, 2005). Here we describe fossil vertebrae attributable to Python from the middle Miocene (late MN 5) hominoid locality of Paşalar, Turkey, which is one of the richest and most diverse mammal localities of that age across Eurasia (Andrews and Tobien, 1977; Alpagut, 1990; Alpagut et al., 1990, 2016; Andrews, 1990, 1995; Andrews and Alpagut, 1990; Ersoy et al., 2008; Kelley et al., 2008; Valenciano et al., 2019). The Paşalar Python represents the first fossil record of the genus from Anatolia. The material shows some general resemblance to the geographically proximate but enigmatic early Miocene Greek taxon Python euboicus, but due to the fact that the latter species is poorly known and its holotype and only known specimen is lost, we refrain from assigning the Anatolian specimens to that species and only refer them as Python sp. The Paşalar specimens represent the westernmost Asian occurrence of Python, confirming a rather wide Palearctic occurrence of the genus during the early and middle Miocene. Institutional Abbreviations—BP, Bursa-Paşalar collection, Paşalar Excavation Site, ustafakemalpaşa, Turkey; EUNMH PV, Natural History Museum of Ege University, Izmir, Turkey; GMH, Geiseltalmuseum of Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg, now referred to as the Geiseltalsammlung, housed as part of the Zentralmagazin Naturwissenschaftlicher Sammlungen, Halle, Germany; HNHM, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest, Hungary; MDHC, Massimo Delfino Herpetological Collection, University of Torino, Torino, Italy; MNCN, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid, Spain; MNHN, Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France; NHMUK, Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom; NHMW, Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna, Austria; PIMUZ, Paläontologisches Institut und Museum der Universität Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; ZPW, Institute of Palaeontology, Wrocław University, Poland; ZZSiD, Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków, Poland

Abstract

Pythonids are fascinating extant reptiles comprising exclusively non-venomous Old-World taxa and including some of the largest known snakes (Murphy and Henderson, 1997). Being thermophilous reptiles, they are distributed in tropical and sub-tropical areas in sub-Saharan Africa, southern and southeastern Asia, Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea, and Australia (Schleip and O’Shea, 2010; Wallach et al., 2014; Head, 2015). The most wellknown genus is Python, which recent molecular studies have nevertheless suggested partitioning into different genera (e.g., Rawlings et al., 2008; Reynolds et al., 2014). The fossil record of Python (sensu lato) is not adequately known; however, it still denotes a more extensive geographic distribution with the genus reaching Europe (Römer, 1870; Rage, 1976, 1984, 2003; Ivanov, 2000; Szyndlar and Rage, 2003; Head, 2015). Accordingly, in Asia the genus achieved a broader geographic distribution during the Neogene and Quaternary, with sporadic finds having been described during the past 130 years (Lydekker, 1888; Noetling, 1901; Hoffstetter, 1964; Rage, 1982; Rage et al., 2001; Head, 2005). Here we describe fossil vertebrae attributable to Python from the middle Miocene (late MN 5) hominoid locality of Paşalar, Turkey, which is one of the richest and most diverse mammal localities of that age across Eurasia (Andrews and Tobien, 1977; Alpagut, 1990; Alpagut et al., 1990, 2016; Andrews, 1990, 1995; Andrews and Alpagut, 1990; Ersoy et al., 2008; Kelley et al., 2008; Valenciano et al., 2019). The Paşalar Python represents the first fossil record of the genus from Anatolia. The material shows some general resemblance to the geographically proximate but enigmatic early Miocene Greek taxon Python euboicus, but due to the fact that the latter species is poorly known and its holotype and only known specimen is lost, we refrain from assigning the Anatolian specimens to that species and only refer them as Python sp. The Paşalar specimens represent the westernmost Asian occurrence of Python, confirming a rather wide Palearctic occurrence of the genus during the early and middle Miocene. Institutional Abbreviations—BP, Bursa-Paşalar collection, Paşalar Excavation Site, ustafakemalpaşa, Turkey; EUNMH PV, Natural History Museum of Ege University, Izmir, Turkey; GMH, Geiseltalmuseum of Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg, now referred to as the Geiseltalsammlung, housed as part of the Zentralmagazin Naturwissenschaftlicher Sammlungen, Halle, Germany; HNHM, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest, Hungary; MDHC, Massimo Delfino Herpetological Collection, University of Torino, Torino, Italy; MNCN, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid, Spain; MNHN, Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France; NHMUK, Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom; NHMW, Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna, Austria; PIMUZ, Paläontologisches Institut und Museum der Universität Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; ZPW, Institute of Palaeontology, Wrocław University, Poland; ZZSiD, Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków, Poland

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Paleontological Institute and Museum
Dewey Decimal Classification:560 Fossils & prehistoric life
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Paleontology
Language:English
Date:18 September 2020
Deposited On:29 Sep 2020 14:52
Last Modified:01 Dec 2020 02:17
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0272-4634
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/02724634.2020.1781144

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