Large wild boar tracks discovered in SW Spain

Recent research by colleagues, including former visiting researcher Dr. Belaústegui and former postdoc Dr. Muñiz, has been featured in the Spanish newspaper El País. Their research, first published in Palaois, examines large wild boar tracks from the Late Pleistocene of Huelva, Spain. The novel ichnogenus and ichnospecies (Suidichnus galani igen. and isp. nov.) described in their article are the first published record of fossil suid tracks. The ichnogenus is named after the family Suidae while the ichnospecies name is a nod to José María Galán, a respected local tracker who discovered the trackways (and many more in the formation).

Footprint 'Suidichnus galani' found in Matalascañas.
Paratype of Suidichnus galani igen. and isp. nov., vertically oriented. (Fig. 3 in Neto De Carvalho et al., 2020)

The large size of these tracks, and the boars themselves, are a divergence from the overall trend of the species towards smaller size. The authors delve into the cause of this divergence and suggest that the increase in size was an adaption to either an increase in predation pressure and/or a resource bonanza.

The article in El País is a fantastic piece of science communication and we highly recommend you give it a read! While the text is originally in Spanish, the Google Translate function on Google Chrome produced a good English translation.

Written by Brittany Laing

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