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Keywords:

  • Miocene;
  • Spain;
  • Taphonomy;
  • Teruel;
  • vertebrate site

This article reports a detailed taphonomic study of the reference Miocene vertebrate site of Cerro de la Garita, (Concud, Teruel, Spain). The sedimentary record of the site indicates that it was a palaeo-lakeshore, and this conclusion is supported by aquatic environment-related taphonomic modifications of its fossils (both on their surfaces and internally). The site provided a water source that appears to have been regularly visited by herbivores. It was, therefore, also likely to have been a good feeding ground for predators and scavengers. Hyaena coprolites have been found at the site, and tooth marks were identified on some fossil bone surfaces. Bone fragments 2–5 cm in length showed clear evidence of heavy digestion and probable regurgitation. Abundant trampling marks were seen on the surface of many of the fossil bones, traits that are congruent with a damp lakeshore environment. Most of the remains were broken, and only a few anatomical elements belonging to the same individual were found close together, although never articulated (i.e. in a manner reflecting their anatomical connections). The fossils showed no signs of selection (either by shape or size) or abrasion, although a certain re-orientation suggests the influence of wave or strand line activity. Despite being an open-air site, none of the fossils appeared to be weathered, further suggesting that the surrounding environment was a damp lakeshore probably shaded by vegetation. Indeed, abundant signs of root activity were observed. No evidence of reworking, that is, post-burial disturbance or diachronic mixing of fossils, was seen, confirming the international value of Cerro de la Garita as a reference site for continental Miocene mammal assemblages.