Tarragona researchers discover a new species of rodent

Researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) and the Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution of Tarragona have discovered in the Orce deposits of Granada a rodent that lived in the south of the Iberian Peninsula between 1.8 and 1 million years ago.

It is an arvicolidthe group that includes voles and mole rats and that has been found in the Fuente Nueva 3 and Barranco León deposits, in Orce (Granada).

This hitherto unknown species has also appeared in Quibas, in Abanilla (Murcia).

The Orce deposits are famous for having offered the oldest evidence of human occupation on the European continent, with an age between 1.4 and 1.2 million years, while the Murcian site is known for hosting a sequence with Vertebrate remains unique to Europe in its age, between 1.1 and 1 million years.

a collection of 80 teeth from Fuente Nueva 3 and Quibas has served to identify the new vole, hitherto unknown to science.

Paleontologists believe that it is an endemic rodent to the south of the peninsula, since up to now it has only been identified in the Guadix-Baza basin and in the Sierra de Quibas.

the researchers Jordi Agustí, Pedro Piñero, Iván Lozano and Juan Manuel Jiménez-Arenas have baptized the new genre as Manchenomys in honor of the professor of the University of Murcia Miguel Ángel Mancheño and in recognition of his work as director of the Quibas deposit during the years 2000 to 2009.

The genus includes the new species Manchenomys orcensis, which has been dedicated precisely to the municipality of Orce, where the Fuente Nueva 3 site is located and becomes the third fossil taxon that pays tribute to the municipality where the oldest evidence is found. of human presence in the western part of Europe.

The evolutionary history of voles it is closely linked to past climate changes.

The researchers believe that the new vole, with its teeth adapted to wear and tear, was capable of digging galleries in which it took refuge when the climatic conditions of the harsh ice ages required it and where it remained safe from its predators due to the loss of forest mass.

The rodent was able to survive for 800,000 yearscoexisting with the first humans that inhabited the westernmost part of Eurasia, and became extinct a million years ago, probably because it was not able to withstand the significant climatic cooling of the lower Pleistocene.

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