Early occurrence of lion (Panthera spelaea) at the Middle Pleistocene Acheulean site of Notarchirico (MIS 16, Italy)

Alessio Iannucci*, Beniamino Mecozzi, Antonio Pineda, Raffaele Sardella, Marco Carpentieri, Rivka Rabinovich, Marie Hélène Moncel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The long sedimentary sequence of Notarchirico has yielded evidence of one of the earliest Acheulean manifestations in Europe and of recurrent hominin occupation, spanning from the end of the interglacial MIS 17 to the glacial MIS 16 (~695–610 ka). Here, we report the new discovery of a lion, Panthera spelaea, from the site, based on a metatarsal from layer A. This part of the sequence dates to ~660–612 ka (MIS 16, 40Ar/39Ar age). Therefore, Notarchirico's lion represents the earliest confirmed occurrence of the species in southwestern Europe, although older findings are known from adjacent areas. Lions and several other large mammal species dispersed into Europe during the Early–Middle Pleistocene Transition, which also witnessed the spread of the Acheulean. Ecological and behavioural adaptability was probably key, for hominins and other species, to cope with the intense and recurrent environmental fluctuations that occurred during this period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-690
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Journal of Quaternary Science Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Carnivora
  • Early–Middle Pleistocene Transition
  • Europe
  • Hominin occupation
  • Panthera fossilis


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