Vertebrate tracks in Late Pleistocene–Early Holocene (?) carbonate aeolianites, Paphos, Cyprus

Jesper Milàn, Georgios Theodorou, David B. Loope, Ioannis Panayides, Lars B. Clemmensen, Maria Gkioni


In 2005, numerous vertebrate tracks were discovered in carbonate aeolianites in and around the town of Paphos, in the south western part of Cyprus. The main track-bearing exposure is located in a protected archaeological site near the Agia Solomoni Church in side the city of Paphos, where cross-sec tions through tracks are abundant in vertical exposures of the aeolianite along Apostolou Pavlou Avenue. Some exposures show as many as 10 tracks per m2 of vertical exposure. Several additional tracks were found in the extensive subterranean tomb complex, the Tombs of the Kings, just outside Paphos. The aeolian deposit was formed when westerly to southwesterly windsdrove fine- to medium-grained calcareous sand onshore from the beach. This generated low coastal dunes, represented by 1–2-m-thick, cross-bedded sets made up of grainflow and wind-ripple strata, and sand sheets composed entirely of wind-ripple strata. The sediment does not yet have an absolute date, but is considered to be of Late Pleistocene to Early Holocene age, as are many other coastal aeolianites in the Mediterranean area. The Late Pleistocene endemic fauna in Cyprus was limited to the dwarf hippopotamus Phanourios minor Desmarest, 1822, the dwarf elephant Elephas cypriotes Bate, 1902, a small carnivore Genetta plesictoides Bate, 1903, and (possibly) humans. Theexposed tracks are 5–15 cm in diameter, with a few tracks up to 23 cm in size. This range of size correlates well with the estimated foot size of dwarf hippopotami and dwarf elephants. This low-diversity, endemic is land fauna provides a unique opportunity to correlate tracks with trackmakers.

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