First report of leopard fossils from a limestone cave in Kenting area, southern Taiwan.

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Date: Aug. 23, 2021
From: PeerJ(Vol. 9)
Publisher: PeerJ. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 8,816 words
Lexile Measure: 1440L

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Abstract :

Longshia-dong Cave, a limestone cave located in the Kenting area within the Kenting National Park of southern Taiwan, yields numerous terrestrial mammalian fossils. Many of them were not reported in historical literature and are neither present in Taiwan. For instance, no historical literature mentioned leopards inhabited in Taiwan, and thus their existence remained unknown. This study describes three fossil leopard (Panthera pardus) teeth uncovered from Longshia-dong Cave. Two isolated lower premolars and one lower molar, respectively p3, p4 and m1, were discovered in a very small area (11 x 6 cm) and show a series of progressive increase in size. Thus, the three teeth should have been belonging to the same individual from the subfamily of Pantherinae. Traditional linear measurements and two-dimensional geometric morphometric analysis for the occlusal surface outlines were conducted on the fossil teeth and extant pantherines inhabited in Asia such as clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa), leopards (Panthera pardus), and tigers (Panthera tigiris). Results show that the fossil teeth are similar both in size and morphology to the teeth of extant leopards, suggesting the assignment of the fossil teeth to leopards. This study, for the first time, reported the presence of leopards in the Late Pleistocene of Taiwan. In addition, the smaller size of the fossil teeth in comparison with Chinese fossil leopards is putatively attributed to insular dwarfism or individual size variability, yet more studies are required.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A672921716