Andrea Villa

Andrea Villa
Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont | ICP

PhD

About

67
Publications
27,006
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521
Citations
Introduction
I am interested in fossil herpetofaunas of Europe, Africa, and Asia and in the comparative morphology of amphibians and reptiles. My main research topics, at the moment, are the osteological characterization of extant European lizards and the palaeodiversity of these squamates in the continent. I am also working on rhynchocephalian diversity in Europe during the Mesozoic.
Additional affiliations
May 2019 - April 2021
Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie
Position
  • Humboldt Research Fellow
November 2014 - March 2018
Università degli Studi di Torino
Position
  • PhD Student
September 2009 - October 2014
University of Milan
Position
  • Student
Education
September 2012 - October 2014
University of Milan
Field of study
  • Natural Sciences
September 2009 - December 2012
University of Milan
Field of study
  • Natural Science

Publications

Publications (67)
Article
Gekkota (geckos and pygopods) constitute a diverse and early diverging clade of squamates, but their highly fragmentary fossil record allows only limited insights into their evolutionary history. Even long-known classic Palaeogene Lagerst€atten, such as the Eocene Messel and Geiseltal, remained uninformative for gecko evolution. Here we describe an...
Article
Els Casots is one of the richest fossil vertebrate sites of the Vallès-Penedès Basin (Catalonia, Spain). It was discovered in 1989 and excavated briefly during the 1990s, resulting in the recovery of thousands of remains and the erection of several new mammal species. Excavations were resumed in 2018 and continue to date. Here we provide updated re...
Article
Full-text available
Members of the urodele family Proteidae currently account for eight extant species within two genera and at least four extinct species within three genera. The clade has a clear disjunct geographical range, with the extinct Paranecturus and the extant Necturus in North America and the extinct Mioproteus and the extant Proteus in Europe and Asia. A...
Article
Full-text available
In the ‘50s of the XX century, a German expedition lead by Richard Dehm collected a large amount of fossil remains from northern Pakistan. Among these was an isolated trunk vertebra of a lizard, which is here referred to Varanus sp. The collecting site of this specimen is not precisely known, but it most likely comes from middle to early late Mioce...
Article
Salamandrina is the only extant representative of the Salamandrininae, characterised by a unique suite of morphological, ecological, and ethological features. The Salamandrina species are endemic of Italy, although their past distribution included different areas of Europe. Fossil remains belonging to this genus were previously described from the M...
Article
Full-text available
The two extant Salamandrina species represent a unique case of morphology, ecology, and ethology among urodeles. The range of this genus is currently limited to Italy, where it represents the only endemic vertebrate genus, but its past range extended over a much broader area of Europe, including the Iberian and Balkan peninsulas. ENM analyses using...
Article
Full-text available
The latest Messinian Monticino Quarry fissure fillings, near Brisighella in Italy, are well known for their diverse mammal fauna. Conversely, little is known about other vertebrates from this rich site. beside presenting an overview of the mammals, here we describe fish, amphibian, reptile, and bird remains, identifying three, eight, at least 18, a...
Article
Albanerpetontids are an extinct clade of superficially salamander-like lissamphibians that range from the Middle Jurassic (Bathonian)-Early Pleistocene and have a primarily Laurasian distribution. The best Cenozoic record for the clade is in Europe, where two species in the type genus Albanerpeton Estes & Hoffstetter, 1976 occur in over 40 localiti...
Article
A small sample of fossil vertebrae of amphibians and reptiles found in the historical collection of the Museum of Geology and Palaeontology of the University of Torino is here described. The fossils most likely originate from the same deposits as the old collections from Weisenau, in the Mainz Basin. In spite of the small number of remains, at leas...
Article
Full-text available
The Early Pleistocene site of Pietrafitta (central Italy) produced a rich vertebrate assemblage from the Late Villafranchian Land Mammal Age (late MN18). Geological and paleobotanical data from Pietrafitta indicate a lacustrine environment, surrounded by a humid deciduous broadleaved forest with a temperate climate. The vertebrate assemblage consis...
Article
Occurrence of the European extinct cordylid genus ‘Bavaricordylus’ from the early middle Miocene of Switzerland was recently questioned. Reanalysis of the Swiss material supports its assignment to the lacertid genus Janosikia, the presence of which is, therefore, indicated for the first time outside from southern Germany. Based on dentary morpholog...
Article
Full-text available
Several extinct species are known from the family Lacertidae, but due to poor preservation, many of them are based on single bones. Here, we compare phylogenetic signals of disarticulated premaxillae, maxillae and dentaries of lacertids from four French Oligocene localities (Coderet, La Colombière, Roqueprune 2, Mas de Got B). We identified five mo...
Article
Full-text available
The Solnhofen Archipelago is well known for its fossil vertebrates of Late Jurassic age, among which figure numerous rhynchocephalian specimens, representing at least six and up to nine genera. A new taxon, named Sphenofontis velserae gen. et sp. nov., increases rhynchocephalian diversity in the Solnhofen Archipelago and is herein described based o...
Article
The site of Coste San Giacomo, in the Anagni Basin, is renowned for its mammal fauna of Early Pleistocene (Gelasian) age, including 32 taxa of small and large mammals. Adding to these, a small amount of remains of amphibians and reptiles was also recovered during recent excavations focused on collecting small vertebrates as well. The analysis of th...
Article
Vipera walser is the most recently recognized European viper. This rare species is endemic to a small area in the Piedmont Alps of Italy, but its closest relatives are found among the Caucasian viper species. In order to provide a starting point for a phylogenetic and biogeographic investigation based on osteology, and including fossils remains, we...
Article
Salamandrina perspicillata, from Northern and Central Italy, and Salamandrina ter-digitata, from Southern Italy, represent a unique case of endemism among the amphibians of Europe. Some efforts were made to study the biology and ecology of these species, but only few studies focused on their comparative osteology. In particular , detailed descripti...
Article
Together with the rest of the Balkan Peninsula, Greece acted as a refuge for thermophilic amphibians and reptiles during the Quaternary Glaciations. In this work we provide new herpetological data on the latest Early Pleistocene locality of Kaiafas, in western Peloponnese. The site yielded one indeterminate salamandrid urodelan (Salamandridae indet...
Article
A certain stability in the Quaternary herpetological assemblages of the Veneto area has been recognised in recent years, however further studies are needed in order to better comprehend their evolutionary dynamics. Amphibians and reptiles from the early Biharian site of Monte La Mesa can prove useful in this respect as the assemblage is composed of...
Article
The skull osteology of Hierophis viridiflavus is here described and figured in detail on the basis of 18 specimens. The sample includes specimens from the ranges of both H. viridiflavus viridiflavus and H. viridiflavus carbonarius as well as specimens not identified at sub-specific level. The main characters that define H. viridiflavus in compariso...
Article
We herein describe the amphibians and reptiles from the Ptolemais fossil assemblage, originating from 12 nearby localities in northwestern Greece, spanning from the late Miocene (MN 13) to the early Pliocene (MN 15). Amphibians are known exclusively of anurans, with the genera Latonia and Rana being identified, the latter constituting the oldest so...
Article
Full-text available
We herein describe the fossil amphibians and reptiles from the Neogene (latest Miocene or earliest Pliocene; MN 13/14) locality of Maramena, in northern Greece. The herpetofauna is shown to be extremely diverse, comprising at least 30 different taxa. Amphibians include at least six urodelan (Cryptobranchidae indet., Salamandrina sp., Lissotriton sp...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Osteological information for extant amphibians and reptiles is scattered through numerous papers and books; this hinders a precise perception of what is known and what is not. In order to aggregate in a synthetic way the available published information and to determine which taxa and topics warrant further attention, we started to compile an online...
Article
Burrowing habits or complex environments have generally been considered as potential drivers acting on reduction and loss of the appendicular skeleton among vertebrates. Herein, we suggest that this might be the case for lissamphibians and squamates, but that fin loss in fishes is usually prevented by important structural constraints, because pecto...
Article
Burrowing habits or complex environments have generally been considered as potential drivers acting on reduction and loss of the appendicular skeleton among vertebrates. Herein, we suggest that this might be the case for lissamphibians and squamates, but that fin loss in fishes is usually prevented by important structural constraints, because pecto...
Article
The fossil record provides evidence of a long evolutionary history of European lizards. Since fossil lizards are regularly represented by bone remains, the knowledge of the origins of extant taxa and their distribution in time and space is hindered by the fact that their comparative osteology is not yet completely and adequately known. In spite of...
Article
We here describe new remains of amphibians and reptiles from the early Miocene (MN 4) of two different Greek localities, Aliveri and Karydia. The newly described material consists of urodelans, alytids, indeterminate anurans, turtles, crocodylians, lacertids, indeterminate scincomorphs, anguids, colubrids, viperids, and indeterminate snakes. The pr...
Article
• Amphibians form a major component of the diet of the otter Lutra lutra in several areas of its wide geographic range. Yet, amphibian remains are rarely identified to species level and therefore information on the diversity of this food resource is generally scarce. • The aims of this study were: 1) to assess the overall pattern and trends in the...
Article
The limbless skink Ophiomorus punctatissimus is a cryptozoic species found in the Peloponnese region of Greece and on the Greek island Kythira. To provide the first thorough description of the cranial and postcranial osteology of this species, both disarticulated specimens and X‐ray computed tomographies of wet‐preserved specimens were examined in...
Article
Worm lizards, or amphisbaenians, of the genus Blanus are found in various countries around the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to four extinct species, seven extant taxa are currently recognized. Here, we present the first comparative analysis of the cranial osteology of Blanus including all extant species. The results of this analysis show a homoge...
Article
Full-text available
Monitor lizards (genus Varanus) inhabited Europe at least from the early Miocene to the Pleistocene. Their fossil record is limited to about 40 localities that have provided mostly isolated vertebrae. Due to the poor diagnostic value of these fossils, it was recently claimed that all the European species described prior to the 21st century are not...
Data
List of references consulted to score characters for the phylogenetic analysis. (PDF)
Data
Matrix used in the phylogenetic analyses. (NEX)
Data
Lists of the apomorphies of V. marathonensis, of the synapomorphies of the clade including V. marathonensis and the subgenus Indovaranus, and of Varanus (based on analysis 1B). (PDF)
Data
List of extant comparative specimens of Varanus. (PDF)
Data
New characters added to the original list of Conrad et al. [11]. (PDF)
Data
Results of the phylogenetic analysis 1A. (PDF)
Data
Results of the phylogenetic analysis 2A. (PDF)
Article
Lizards were and still are an important component of the European herpetofauna. The modern European lizard fauna started to set up in the Miocene and a rich fossil record is known from Neogene and Quaternary sites. At least 12 lizard and worm lizard families are represented in the European fossil record of the last 23 Ma. The record comprises more...
Article
Timon is a large-sized lacertid lizard genus with a peculiar current distribution around the Mediterranean. Six species form three distinct clades, which are geographically separated from each other. These clades inhabit the Iberian Peninsula, France and the north-western coast of Italy (Timon lepidus and T. nevadensis); the North-African part of t...
Article
Citation for this article: Villa, A., R. Kosma, A. Čerňanský, and M. Delfino. 2018. Taxonomic assessment of ‘Bavaricordylus’ Kosma, 2004 Kosma, R. 2004. The dentitions of recent and fossil scincomorphan lizards (Lacertilia, Squamata)—systematics, functional morphology, palecology. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Hannover, Hannover, Germany, 187 p...
Article
Full-text available
The Roman well US 100, located in the Tenuta Zuccarello near Venice, has yielded a large number of different animals remains, dated back to 2000 ± 40 years BP. Amphibians and reptiles are represented by at least 11 taxa: two caudates (Lissotriton gr. L. vulgaris, Triturus gr. T. cristatus), three anurans (Bombina sp., Bufo bufo, Rana dalmatina vel...
Article
Mulhuli-Amo is an early Pleistocene locality of the Buia area in the Dandiero Basin (Danakil Depression, Eritrea) already known for the presence of Homo remains and stone tools. Recent surface surveys lead to the retrieval of a rich vertebrate fauna that is here described for the first time in order to contribute to the palaeoenvironmental backgrou...
Article
Few Quaternary herpetofaunas have been recovered from The Netherlands. Among these, the one coming from the early Pleistocene site of the Russel-Tiglia-Egypte pit near Tegelen is of particular interest , because it is the type locality of the recently described, last western European palaeobatrachid anuran, Palaeobatrachus eurydices. The large numb...
Article
The fossil record of amphisbaenians in Europe has recently been augmented through the description of new finds across the continent. It has been suggested that the post-Miocene range of amphisbaenians followed a progressive southward constriction that ultimately lead to their extant disjunct distribution. We herein describe amphisbaenian vertebral...
Article
Full-text available
Comparative osteology of European lizards, and of European geckos in particular, is poorly known, resulting in problems when trying to determine to species isolated bones found as fossils or as remains of prey in scats or pellets. In order to partly solve this issue, we here present a detailed comparative analysis of the cranial bones of the four m...
Article
Among the Early Pleistocene Italian fossil herpetofaunas, Rivoli Veronese is remarkable in having yielded the youngest known allocaudates, represented by Albanerpeton pannonicum, together with remains of other amphibians and reptiles. The assemblage includes at least 15 other taxa, including two caudates (Speleomantes sp., Ichthyosaura alpestris),...
Article
The single extant species of the anuran genus Latonia lives in Israel, but in the fossil record the genus is known mainly from Europe, spanning from the Oligocene to the early Pleistocene. Here we describe new remains of Latonia from the early to late Miocene of the Vallès-Penedès Basin (NE Iberian Peninsula), coming from the following localities:...
Article
Remains of a varanid lizard from the middle Pleistocene of the Tourkobounia 5 locality near Athens, Greece are described. The new material comprises cranial elements only (one maxilla, one dentary, and one tooth) and is attributed to Varanus, the genus to which all European Neogene varanid occurrences have been assigned. Previously, the youngest un...
Article
We here describe a new squamate fauna from the late Miocene (Messinian, MN 13) of Ano Metochi, northern Greece. The lizard fauna of Ano Metochi is here shown to be rather diverse, consisting of lacertids, anguids, and potential cordylids, while snakes are also abundant, consisting of scolecophidians, natricines and at least two different colubrines...
Article
Full-text available
The systematic analysis of more than 20,000 fossils (Vertebrata and Mollusca), recovered from the post-evaporitic Messinian (5.41-5.33 Ma) succession of Moncucco Torinese (NW Italy), resulted in the identification of 90 vertebrate and 65 mollusk taxa that provide additional information about the paleoecological context and the paleoenvironmental se...
Article
The capability of palaeontologists to identify fossil remains of a particular group of vertebrates strongly depends on the knowledge they have of its comparative osteology and on the actual presence of diagnostic differences among the considered taxa. This could have a relevant influence on the study of palaeodiversity, since a low recognisability...
Article
Fossil amphibians and reptiles from the earliest late Miocene (early Tortonian, MN 9) of Plakias (Crete, Greece) are described in this paper. Most of the material is fragmentary, precluding precise taxonomic assignment. Nevertheless, the herpetofauna of Plakias is here shown to be diverse, comprising at least six different taxa: an alytid anuran, a...
Article
Disarticulated remains of palaeobatrachids coming from the early Pleistocene (Gelasian) of Tegelen (The Netherlands) are here described and referred to the new species Palaeobatrachus eurydices. The new species has been included in the first comprehensive phylogenetic analysis considering all known species of the genus Palaeobatrachus and was found...
Article
Full-text available
The Late Miocene continental successions of the Baccinello-Cinigiano basin (Grosseto), one of the longest and most continuous vertebrate-bearing continental successions in the Neogene Italian record, yielded at least four superimposed vertebrate assemblages bracketed in the time span 8.3-6.4 Ma. The Baccinello-Cinigiano basin is famous for recordin...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The fossil record offers the only direct evidence concerning the spatial and chronological dimensions of the evolutionary processes occurred in the past. However, completeness of the record and its knowledge does not always allow researchers to have precise enough information to provide accurate evolutionary scenarios and support the calibration of...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
New material of fossil amphibians and reptiles from the earliest late Miocene (early Tortonian, MN 9) of Plakias, Crete, Greece, are described. Despite the fragmentary nature of the fossil specimens, the herpetofauna of Plakias is shown to comprise at least six different taxa: one alytid anuran, one crocodylian, two turtles (one pan-­‐trionychid an...
Article
Full-text available
The fossil record of Chamaeleonidae is very scarce and any new specimen is therefore considered important for our understanding of the evolutionary and biogeographic history of the group. New specimens from the early Miocene of Aliveri (Evia Island), Greece constitute the only fossils of these lizards from southeastern Europe. Skull roofing materia...
Article
Full-text available
A new specimen of the marine turtle Trachyaspis lardyi Meyer, 1843 collected from Piacenzian sediments cropping out in the bed of the Stirone River (Northern Italy) is herein described. The identification of the remains is based mainly on the vermicular ornamentation visible on the dorsal surface of the carapace plates, a diagnostic feature of the...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Started in late 1994 as research focused mainly on geological survey and regional geology, thanks to collaboration between the Asmara Department of Mines (Eritrea) and the University of Florence (Italy), the Buia Project soon allowed the recovery of abundant Early Pleistocene vertebrates associated to archaeological artifacts in an area located abo...
Chapter
Full-text available
The Lanza’s Salamander, Salamandra lanzai, an endemism of the Italian and French slopes of the south-western Alps, was described on the basis of molecular and external morphological data. The species is similar in colouration and life history to the Alpine salamander, S. atra, but phylogenetic studies showed that it is more closely related to S. co...

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Projects

Projects (3)
Project
The main goal of this project is to understand the taxonomic identity and ecological diversity of the rhynchocephalians coming from the Kimmeridgian-Tithonian of the "Solnhofen limestones" in southern Germany. This will result in a better comprehension of: 1) the actual taxonomic significance of postcranial diagnostic features used to identify Late Jurassic rhynchocephalians from Germany; 2) the stratigraphical and geographical differences among Late Jurassic rhynchocephalian assemblages from southern Germany and, more generally, Europe; 3) the evolutionary dynamics that drove the evolution of rhynchocephalians in the Late Jurassic of Europe.
Project
Determination of the species diversity of lacertid lizards from the Oligocene of France (Coderet, La Colombière, Roquerune 2, Mas de Got B).
Project
The osteology of European lizards is a very poorly known topic and this hinders a complete knowledge of the history of this Group of squamates, since often the fossils of its representatives can be barely identified at the genus or species level. This project is composed by two parts: first, an analysis of the comparative osteology of extant lizards aimed at recognizing diagnostic features of the different taxa, and second, a study of fossils aimed at understanding the paleodiversity of the Group and how it has been shaped during time.