Fossil Record 19(2): 131-141, doi: 10.5194/fr-19-131-2016
First occurrence of Panthera atrox(Felidae, Pantherinae) in the Mexican state of Hidalgo and a review of therecord of felids from the Pleistocene of Mexico
expand article infoVictor Manuel Bravo-Cuevas, Jaime Priego-Vargas§, Miguel Ángel Cabral-Perdomo, Marco Antonio Pineda Maldonado|
‡ Museo de Paleontología, Área Académica de Biología, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo, Ciudad del Conocimiento, Carretera Pachuca-Tulancingo km 4.5, CP 42184, Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico§ Área Académica de Biología, Doctorado en Biodiversidad y Conservación, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo, Ciudad del Conocimiento, Carretera Pachuca-Tulancingo km 4.5, CP 42184, Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico| Área Académica de Biología, Maestría en Biodiversidad y Conservación, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo, Ciudad del Conocimiento, Carretera Pachuca-Tulancingo km 4.5, CP 42184, Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico
Open Access
Abstract
Panthera atrox was acommon large-sized cat in North America during the late Pleistocene. Anisolated lower canine and a fifth metacarpal bone referable to this specieswere recovered from fluvial Quaternary deposits that outcrop in southeasternHidalgo, central Mexico. Associated fossil material belonging toBison indicates a Rancholabrean North American Land Mammal Age; theage assignment is corroborated by the presence of P. atrox. Acomparative study with selected specimens of Panthera andSmilodon indicates that the Hidalgoan sample shares the following diagnostic features with P.atrox: a large, robust, and non-stronglycurved lower canine; a large and relatively slender fifth metacarpal with awell-developed projection on the palmar side at the proximal end, narrowarticulating surface for the unciform; a narrow notch on the articulatingsurface for the fourth metacarpal; and a diaphysis that at the middle is ovalin cross section. The record supplements the evidence of P. atrox incentral Mexico and represents the first reported occurrence of this catspecies in the state of Hidalgo. By the same token, the known geographicdistribution of P. atrox in the Mexican territory suggests that itwas relatively common in temperate areas of central Mexico between19 and 24° N at an altitudinal range from 1500 to2250 m a.s.l. The large size (mean body mass of 300 kg) andhypercarnivorous adaptations of the American lion suggest it was the toppredator of the mammalian community recorded at southeastern Hidalgo,displacing other members of the carnivore guild at the mesopredator level,such as the dire wolf (Canis dirus ), which has been also reported in thearea. The high diversity of large herbivores recorded at southeasternHidalgo, which in turn could represent potential prey of P. atrox,suggests that some areas that now are part of central Mexico were suitablehunting sites for this large-sized cat.

A review of the Pleistocene record of Felidae from Mexico revealed that itencompasses 87.5 and 73.3 % of generic and specific diversity known forNorth America, respectively, including seven genera (Felis,Miracinonyx, Panthera, Puma, Lynx, Leopardus, and Smilodon) and 11species (Felis rexroadensis, Miracinonyx inexpectatus, Pantheraatrox, Panthera onca, Puma concolor, Puma yagouaroundi, Lynx rufus, Leoparduspardalis, Leopardus wiedii, Smilodon fatalis, and Smilodongracilis). The majority of these taxa have been reported from numerous latePleistocene localities; in particular, Panthera atrox was relativelycommon and widely distributed across the Mexican territory.