Journal of South American Earth Sciences ( IF 1.704 ) Pub Date : 2020-01-15 , DOI: 10.1016/j.jsames.2020.102499 Nahuel A. De Santi, Diego H. Verzi, A. Itatí Olivares, Pedro Piñero, Cecilia C. Morgan, Matías E. Medina, Diego E. Rivero, Eduardo P. Tonni
The subterranean rodent Ctenomys is the single living representative of the family Ctenomyidae, and the most diverse genus within Hystricomorpha. Its fossil record begins in the late Pliocene and shows an increase in diversity since the Pleistocene. Here we describe a new middle-sized Ctenomys species from a large cranial sample collected at the archaeological site Quebrada del Real 1 in the high plains of the Pampa de Achala (Córdoba, Argentina). For this goal, we analyzed the cranial and mandibular shape variation through a geometric morphometric approach, and performed a comparative morphological analysis in the context of the living Ctenomys. The new species is characterized by having a wide rostrum with a deep rostral fossa, strong temporal fossa in the frontal, upper incisors strongly procumbent and with grooved enamel, and mandible with low corpus, long procumbent diastema and descending masseteric crest. A phylogenetic analysis demonstrated its close affinity with Ctenomys osvaldoreigi, an extant species from a nearby area. The new species represents the first notice of an extinct Ctenomys species from the Holocene. Given its peculiar morphology, the extinction of this species would have resulted in significant loss of morphological diversity, thus constraining the current boundaries of variation of the genus. The last record of the new species occurs in a period characterized by marked extinction of small mammals in southern South America mainly due to anthropogenic causes.