Deinogalerix

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Deinogalerix
Temporal range: Late Miocene 10–5 Ma
Deinogalerix koenigswaldi-Naturalis-PeterMaas.JPG
Skeleton in Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Eulipotyphla
Family: Erinaceidae
Subfamily: Galericinae
Genus: Deinogalerix
Freudenthal, 1972
Species
  • D. brevirostris
  • D. freudenthali
  • D. intermedius
  • D. koenigswaldi[1]
  • D. minor
  • D. masinii[2][3]
  • D. samniticus[4]

Deinogalerix (from Ancient Greek, "terrible/terror" + Galerix) is an extinct genus of gymnure which lived in Italy in the Late Miocene, 7-10 millon years ago. The genus was apparently endemic to what was then the island of Gargano, which is now a peninsula. The first specimens of Deinogalerix were first described in 1972.[5]

The genus is in the hedgehog subfamily of gymnures or moon-rats, which are not rats at all, but rather hairy, superficially rat-like relatives of the hedgehog lacking quills. Deinogalerix had a long, thin, conical face, small pointed ears, a lengthy, tapering tail and long hairs.[6]

Fossil head of Deinogalerix koenigswaldi
Deinogalerix (in scale with modern Erinaceus europaeus). Artwork by Mauricio Antón.

Deinogalerix koenigswaldi's skull was 20 centimetres (7.9 in) long and the entire body measured 60 centimetres (24 in). It occupied the same ecological niche as dogs and cats today, except that it had more predators itself - such as the enormous barn owl Tyto gigantea.[1]

It is believed that the species of Deinogalerix were insectivores, mostly feeding off invertebrates like beetles, dragonflies and crickets, and possibly even snails. But the larger species may also have hunted small mammals, reptiles and birds.

In the Late Miocene subepoch, what is at present Italy was mainly a group of small islands and only at a later date did majority of these join with the mainland. It is known that animals on these islands sometimes evolved quite differently from elsewhere. So it is possible that Deinogalerix may have lived exclusively in the Gargano.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Freudenthal, M. (1972). "Deinogalerix koenigswaldi nov. gen., nov. spec., a giant insectivore from the Neogene of Italy". Scripta Geologica. 14: 1–19.  [1] (includes full text PDF)
  2. ^ Villiera B.; Van Den Hoek Ostendeb L.W.; De Vosb J.; Paviaa M. (2013). "New discoveries on the giant hedgehog Deinogalerix from the Miocene of Gargano (Apulia, Italy)". Geobios. 46 (1-2): 63–75. doi:10.1016/j.geobios.2012.10.001. 
  3. ^ "Deinogalerix masinii: New Giant Fossil Hedgehog from Italy". Sci-News.com. 2013-11-11. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  4. ^ Andrea Savorelli; Federico Masini; Paul P. A. Mazza; Maria Adelaide Rossi; Silvano Agostini (2017). "New species of Deinogalerix (Mammalia, Eulipotyphla) from the late Miocene of Scontrone (Abruzzo, central Italy)". Palaeontologia Electronica. 20 (1): Article number 20.1.16A. doi:10.26879/672. 
  5. ^ Michael J Benton (2005). Vertebrate Palaeontology. Blackwell Publishing. p. 335. ISBN 0-632-05637-1. 
  6. ^ Kenneth David Rose (2005). The Rise of Placental Mammals. JHU Press. p. 144. ISBN 0-8018-8472-1. 

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