In the present article, we study the mammoth remains from the late Villafranchian (Early Pleistocene) locality Apollonia-1 (Mygdonia Basin, Northern Greece). The material consists of a hemi-mandible with the m3, isolated m3/M3 and a maxilla fragment with DP2-DP3. The mandibular and dental features permit their attribution to the southern mammoth Mammuthus meridionalis (Nesti, 1825). Yet, the dental features indicate an evolutionary stage somewhat more derived than the Upper Valdarno mammoth (beginning of late Villafranchian) in terms of the higher number of plates in the DP3 and the marginally higher hypsodonty index in the M3. This is also revealed by the application of a Principal Component Analysis, where several dental features are combined. Moreover, the relatively deep mandibular corpus is a derived feature. In these aspects, the Apollonia-1 sample fits better with corresponding specimens from European localities correlated to the second part of the late Villafranchian and the Epivillafranchian. From this period, two subspecies have been proposed from Western Europe: M. m. vestinus (Azzaroli in Ambrosetti, Azzaroli, Bonadonna & Follieri, 1972) from Italian localities correlated to the Farneta Faunal Unit and M. m. depereti Coppens & Beden, 1982 from Saint-Prest (France). We propose that M. m. vestinus can be regarded a valid subspecies of the southern mammoth and that M. m. depereti is possibly a junior synonym. The results of this study are in agreement with the existing biochronological correlation of the Apollonia-1 fauna and further support the potential biostratigraphic significance of M. meridionalis within the Early Pleistocene, albeit conclusions based on limited/fragmentary sample should always be taken with caution.
Greece, Villafranchian, Pleistocene, Mammuthus, biostratigraphy