Massimo Delfino

Massimo Delfino
Università degli Studi di Torino | UNITO · Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra

PhD

About

260
Publications
169,309
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3,582
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2011 - present
Autonomous University of Barcelona
Position
  • Research Associate
January 2009 - present
Universität Zürich
January 1999 - December 2008
Università degli Studi di Firenze

Publications

Publications (260)
Article
Archaeological investigations carried out in the cave Zubbio di Cozzo San Pietro, Bagheria, Sicily, revealed the presence of a few skeletal elements of a large-sized tortoise in a funerary area dating to the Copper/Bronze Age. The tortoise has been AMS-dated revealing an age of 12.5 ± 0.5 kyr BP and therefore it pre-dates the funerary activities. T...
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
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...
Chapter
The fossil record of squamates (i.e. lizards and snakes) from Greece is reviewed herein. Fossil remains of lizards and snakes in Greece date as back as the early Miocene. Their fossil record spans throughout most of the Neogene and the Quaternary and extends in several localities across both continental and insular parts of the country. All major s...
Chapter
The fossil record of crocodylians from Greece is reviewed herein. Currently absent from the extant herpetofauna of the country (and the whole Europe), however, fossil record attests that crocodylians were present, even if rare and poorly represented (only isolated teeth and one osteoderm have been found so far) during the Miocene. The oldest crocod...
Chapter
The oldest fossil amphibians from Greece are early Miocene in age, and therefore, only the last few millions of years of amphibian evolution are recorded in this country, and all but one (Mioproteus) of the identified taxa are referable to extant genera. No extinct species of amphibians have been described so far on the basis of Greek fossils. Howe...
Article
Dmanisi (Georgia) is one of the oldest Early Paleolithic sites discovered out of Africa. In addition, it is the best site to understand the first Homo deme out of Africa and the first hominin occupation of Central to Western Eurasia. It has produced more than 40 hominin remains, including several very informative skulls, found in direct association...
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...
Conference Paper
The sedimentary basins of Greece contain an important record of fossil vertebrates that has been known and studied for nearly two centuries. Here, we present our collective effort to review and summarize this fossil record. A combination of our original research and previously published records permits the complete reassessment of the identified ve...
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
Generally, the species is considered to be the only naturally occurring taxon. However, species recognised and defined using different species delimitation criteria cannot readily be compared, impacting studies of biodiversity through Deep Time. This comparability issue is particularly marked when comparing extant with extinct species, because the...
Article
Generally, the species is considered to be the only naturally occurring taxon. However, species recognised and defined using different species delimitation criteria cannot readily be compared, impacting studies of biodiversity through Deep Time. This comparability issue is particularly marked when comparing extant with extinct species, because the...
Article
Full-text available
The title of this book, written in Italian, may be translated as: “Turtles in people’s Culture – Myths, Legends and Folklore”. The author, Mariella Turrini, is an Italian literature teacher loving animals and travels and this book is clearly the outcome of the cross-over of these two beloved passions.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In this study, we describe a new crocodile skull from the world-renowned palaeontological and archaeological site of Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania). The fossil, discovered and collected in 2016 during an annular solar eclipse and therefore nicknamed “Black Sun,” was found in a new trench excavated by the THOR (Tanzania Human Origins Research) team at sit...
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...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The sedimentary basins of Greece contain an important record of fossil vertebrates that has been known and studied for nearly two centuries. Here, we present our collective effort to review and summarize this fossil record. A combination of our original research and previously published records permits the complete reassessment of the identified ve...
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
Warm-adapted species survived the cold stages of the past glacial-interglacial cycles in southern European peninsulas and recolonized major parts of Central and Northern Europe in the wake of postglacial warming. However, many of the genetic lineages which differentiated within these refugia predate even the Pleistocene. One of these refugia is the...
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
Full-text available
Olduvai Gorge (northern Tanzania) is one of the best known and most iconic palaeontological and archaeological sites in the world. in more than a century of research it has yielded an impressive record of fossils and stone tools which stands as a compendium of human evolution in the context of environmental changes of east Africa in the last 2 Ma....
Article
Full-text available
We here describe a small turtle assemblage originating from the early Tortonian (late Miocene) palaeoisland of Scontrone, central Italy, a locality previously known mostly for its endemic mammals and giant birds, which were otherwise shared only with the Gargano localities, another fossiferous area belonging to the same palaeobioprovince. The fossi...
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 Pliocene–Pleistocene transition in the Neotropics is poorly understood despite the major climatic changes that occurred at the onset of the Quaternary. The San Gregorio Formation, the younger unit of the Urumaco Sequence, preserves a fauna that documents this critical transition. We report stingrays, freshwater bony fishes, amphibians, crocodil...
Article
Turtles of the clade Testudinoidea have a rather scarce fossil record in Afro-Arabia, ranging from the late Eocene up to the Quaternary. The vast majority of testudinoid fossils from Afro-Arabia are ascribed to Testudinidae, which has had a continuous presence in the area since the late Eocene. Geoemydidae is poorly documented by fragments found th...
Article
Once a much more globally widespread crocodylian clade, Tomistominae is today represented by just one species, Tomistoma schlegelii (the false gharial), restricted to south-east Asia. Although tomistomine fossil occurrences are recognized from the early Eocene (∼55 Ma) onwards, their remains are often incomplete, making appropriate taxonomic classi...
Article
Full-text available
The most accepted killing model for the Permian-Triassic mass extinction (PTME) postulates that massive volcanic eruption (i.e., the Siberian Traps Large Igneous Province) led to geologically rapid global warming, acid rain and ocean anoxia. On land, habitable zones were drastically reduced, due to the combined effects of heating, drought and acid...
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
Full-text available
We here describe turtle remains from the late Miocene (Tortonian) of Cessaniti (Calabria, southern Italy), an area that recently has been palaeogeographically reconstructed as being, at that time of the Neogene, directly connected (or at least rather proximate) to northern Africa, instead of Europe. The material pertains to three different turtle c...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we describe pleurodire turtle material from the island of Sardinia, Italy, originating from two Eocene localities of the Cixerri Formation. The more complete among the two specimens bears strong resemblance with the continental Western European Eocenochelus eremberti and is tentatively referred to the same species, while the second,...
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
Full-text available
Recently described species suffer lack of information that hampers setting up appropriate conservation strategies. The situation is particularly complex with microendemic snakes, for which detection and monitoring are particularly challenging. The Walser viper Vipera walser is a recently described snake inhabiting a small area of the SW Italian alp...
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
This paper presents the recent excavations at the previously unexplored site of RJ-3, in the bay of Ras al-Jinz, one of the key archaeological areas in the Omani Sharquiyyah. During the Umm an-Nar period, RJ-3 most likely formed a single, large settlement with the nearby – and well known – site of RJ-2, located on the other side of the bay. Results...
Article
The dispersal of Crocodylus from Africa to Europe during the Miocene is not well understood. A small collection of cranial fragments and postcranial elements from the latest Miocene (6.2 Ma) site of Venta del Moro (Valencia, Spain) have previously been referred to Crocodylus cf. C. checchiai Maccagno, 1947 without accompanying descriptions. Here we...
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...
Chapter
Several localities around the world expose successions of rocks that straddle the Permian–Triassic boundary documenting a common pattern of environmental change. This change testifies to a large-scale event that led to the extinction of a significant portion of biodiversity, the most severe mass extinction of all times. This event is called the End...
Article
Full-text available
Molecular and morphological phylogenies concur in indicating that the African lineages formerly referred to Crocodylus niloticus are the sister taxon the four Neotropical crocodiles (Crocodylus intermedius, C. moreleti, C. acutus and C. rhombifer), implying a transoceanic dispersal from Africa to America. So far the fossil record did not contribute...
Article
This paper presents the recent excavations at the previously unexplored site of RJ-3, in the bay of Ras al-Jinz, one of the key archaeological areas in the Omani Sharquiyyah. During the Umm an-Nar period, RJ-3 most likely formed a single, large settlement with the nearby –– and well known –– site of RJ-2, located on the other side of the bay. Resul...
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
Full-text available
We here redescribe Palaeophis oweni, an almost neglected species of palaeophiid snakes from the Eocene of Monte Duello, northeastern Italy. Despite having been described since the 19th century and being the only known named species of its genus from Mediterranean Europe, P. oweni has so far received only minor and sporadic attention in the literatu...
Article
Full-text available
We here describe turtle remains from the late Miocene (Tortonian) of Cessaniti (Calabria, southern Italy), an area that recently has been palaeogeographically reconstructed as being, at that time of the Neogene, directly connected (or at least rather proximate) to northern Africa, instead of Europe. The material pertains to three different turtle c...
Article
Since the description of Isisfordia duncani, a number of new extinct species and revisions of previously described species have prompted a variety of contradicting phylogenetic hypotheses on the topology of Neosuchia. As a consequence, a consensus on the rooting of Eusuchia in relation to other neosuchian clades has not been reached and the origin...
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
We herein describe Sardophis elaphoides Georgalis & Delfino n. gen. n. sp., a new snake taxon from the early Pleistocene of Monte Tuttavista VI, Sardinia, Italy. Sardophis elaphoides Georgalis & Delfino n. gen. n. sp. possesses a distinct vertebral anatomy and is diagnosed by a unique combination of features. The new Sardinian taxon is further comp...
Article
Full-text available
The number of precaudal vertebrae in all extant crocodylians is remarkably conservative, with nine cervicals, 15 dorsals and two sacrals, a pattern present also in their closest extinct relatives. The consistent vertebral count indicates a tight control of axial patterning by Hox genes during development. Here we report on a deviation from this pat...
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
Full-text available
Diplocynodon is a genus of basal alligatoroid comprising nine species, which spanned the late Paleocene to middle Miocene of Europe. Despite recent revisions of most Diplocynodon species, one of the earliest named and most complete, Diplocynodon hantoniensis, has not been redescribed for over 150 years. This species is known from the remains of num...
Article
Full-text available
Diplocynodon is a genus of basal alligatoroid comprising nine species, which spanned the late Palaeocene to middle Miocene of Europe. Despite recent revisions of most Diplocynodon species, one of the earliest named and most complete, Diplocynodon hantoniensis, has not been re-described for over 150 years. This species is known from the remains of n...
Article
Early Pleistocene terrestrial climate conditions in the Mediterranean region, especially between 1.3 and 1.7 Ma, are poorly understood. Here, the amphibian and reptile fossil record from 24 fissures (Cava Pirro) of the Pirro Nord karstic complex (southern Italy) is used to infer quantitative paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental reconstructions. The...
Article
Crocodilian remains from the Oligocene fossil locality of Monteviale, northeastern Italy, have historically been referred to different genera, but all material was recently assigned to Diplocynodon cf. D. ratelii Pomel, 1847. The purpose of the present work is to clarify the systematics of the known crocodilian remains from Monteviale. The largest...
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
In the present contribution we focus on an overview of the Cenozoic crocodylians of Sardinia (Italy). Crocodylians from this Italian island have been published since the second half of the 19th Century and a number of papers reported on the presence of these vertebrates in 16 different localities. The remains, some of which apparently lost, are mai...
Article
Full-text available
Small, irregular isolated bones identified as remains of leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) were recovered from Mid to Late Holocene sites at Ra's al-Hamra and Ra's al-Hadd, coastal Oman. These provide the third instance of this animal being documented from any prehistoric site anywhere, and the records provide one of the oldest, if not the...
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
Some drillings have been carried out in June 1998 by the Soprintendenza Archelogica del Veneto in the underground of Lova di Campagna Lupia (province of Venice, N-E Italy), along the Cornio canal. During the following excavation the remains of a roman pit (I sec. b.C. - I sec. A.D.) have been found; the pit was filled with warp containing several o...