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Villafranchian age (/ˌvɪləˈfræŋkiən/ VIL-ə-FRANK-ee-ən) is a period of geologic time (3.5–1.0 Ma)[1][2]: 7 overlapping the end of the Pliocene and the beginning of the Pleistocene used more specifically with European Land Mammal Ages. Named by Italian geologist Lorenzo Pareto[3] for a sequence of terrestrial sediments studied near Villafranca d'Asti, a town near Turin,[4] it succeeds the Ruscinian age.

The Villafranchian is sub-divided into six faunal units based on the localities of Triversa, Montopoli, Saint-Vallier, Olivola, Tasso and Farnetta.[2]: 149

A major division of both geological deposits and time, the Villafranchian is significant because the earliest hominids that clearly evolved into modern man (the australopithecines) appeared within it.[4] The Villafranchian is partially contemporaneous with the Blancan Stage of North America.[4]

Many animals and their extinct ancestors evolved during the Villafranchian, including the Red fox, Least weasel, Moorhen, Etruscan bear, and Panthera gombaszoegensis.


  1. ^ Rook, Lorenzo; Martínez-Navarro, Bienvenido (2010). "Villafranchian: The long story of a Plio-Pleistocene European large mammal biochronologic unit". Quaternary International. 219: 134. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2010.01.007.
  2. ^ a b The Pleistocene Boundary and the Beginning of the Quaternary edited by John A. Van Couvering. Cambridge University Press 1997
  3. ^ Fossil Mammals of Asia: Neogene Biostratigraphy and Chronology, edited by Xiaoming Wang, Lawrence J. Flynn, Mikael Fortelius
  4. ^ a b c