The main research topics will be briefly presented in the following lines.
See the section bibliography for the results so far obtained
1 – Italian herpetofaunas
The main research line concerns the study of the evolution of the Italian herpetofaunas.
The critical evaluation of all the literature so far produced is flanked by the analysis of the fossil remains coming mostly from Neogene and Quaternary localities. The PhD thesis has been devoted to the Neogene and Quaternary amphibians and reptiles from Italy.
Since 1992, the data concerning the fossil amphibians and reptiles found within the political boundaries of Italy have been entered in a data base which now (November 2007) contains about 1500 taxon/locality data.
The study of some of the Italian materials is, or has been, developed as subject of master or PhD theses.
A research line particularly interesting from a taxonomic and biogeographic point of view is the study of the Italian fossil crocodyles.
2 – Oligo-Miocene herpetofaunas from Spain
The herpetofaunistic remains from some Oligo-Miocene herpetofaunas from Spain (mostly Catalonian) have been selected at the Institut de Paleontologia "M. Crusafont" in Sabadell with the collaboration of Jordi Agustì.
These remains have not been the object of a detailed work, but have been preliminary described in an unpublished report.
3 – Neogene and Quaternary herpetofaunas from Greece
A project that parallels the one developed during the PhD thesis for Italy, has been started also for Greece. This project has been made possible by the collaboration of Constantine Doukas (Athens) and Hans de Bruijn (Utrecht).
4 – The crocodylian from Oarda de Jos (Romania)
The skull of a basal eusuchian from the Maastrichtian locality of Oarda de Jos (Transylvania, Romania) represents the best preserved material of Allodaposuchus precedens Nopcsa, 1928.
On the basis of this material, the skull anatomy of A. precedens has been completely described for the first time. The phylogenetic analysis allowed to confirm the results previously obtained by Buscalioni et al. (2001). This study has been developed in collaboration with Vlad Codrea (Cluj Napoca), Thierry Smith (Bruxelles), and their co-workers.
5 – The crocodylians from Mont Berru-Cernay les Reims (France)
The locality of Mont Berru-Cernay les Reims (France) yielded a rich collection of crocodylians coming from the Upper Paleocene. Particularly interesting are the remains belonging to still undescribed alligatoroid and to the Asiatosuchus-like crocodyloids.
This project is developed in collaboration with France de Lapparent (Paris) and Thierry Smith (Bruxelles).
6 – The Belgian crocodylians
One of the several projects developed in collaboration with Thierry Smith and his research group (Bruxelles), concerns the study of some fossil crocodylians from Belgium.
So far, the remains of Eosuchus lerichei and Asiatosuchus depressifrons from Dormaal, Erquelinnes, Leval and Orp-le-Grand have been studied.
Thanks to the several collaboration projects developed outside Europe by the Vertebrate Palaeontology Group of the Earth Sciences Department of Florence University, it has been possible to study materials offering interesting topics in terms of morphology, taxonomy, phylogenesis, palaeobiogeography, and palaeoecology.
7 – Pleistocene herpetofaunas from Eritrea and Sudan
The Eritrean locality of Buia (famous because of the presence of a human skull familiarly called “the Buia lady”) yielded and abundant vertebrate fauna.
The herpetofauna is represented by Crocodylus niloticus, Pelusios cf. P. sinuatus, Varanus sp. and Python sp.
The herpetofauna agrees with other vertebrates in indicating a landscape with extensive wet areas.
In order to find fossil localities of the same age and possibly with the same fauna, the palaeontological survey has been recently extended to Sudan.
8 – The giant tortoise from San Josè (Ecuador)
The only chelonian remain from the Holocene of San Josè testifies for the presence in continental Ecuador of a giant tortoise with a carapace length of about one meter. Due to the robustness of the remain, it is possible to suppose that a giant size was acquired in an environment non predator-free.
9 - The crocodyles from Trinil (Java)
Along with the renowned remains of Pithecanthropus erectus, Dubois found at Trinil (Java) several fossil crocodylians. On the basis of these remains, Dubois briefly described the new species Crocodylus ossifragus and Gavialis bengawanicus. With the goal of evaluating the validity of these species, and, if valid, their phylogenetic relationships, the Dubois collection at Naturalis (Leiden, The Netherlands) and the Selenka collection at Natural History Museum in Berlin (Germany) have been studied. A project in collaboration with John de Vos (Leiden).
10 – The Bronze age amphibians from the “Ara Cave" (Israel)
Thanks to the collaboration of Guy Bar-Oz (Haifa) and Lior Weissbrod (St. Louis) the Bronze age amphibians from the “Ara Cave" (Israel) have been studied. The remains indicate the presence of Pelobates syriacus and Bufo viridis.
Remarkable is the presence of P. syriacus because it is locally extinc at present.
11 – The Dmanisi (Georgia) herpetofauna
Dmanisi is a quite popular Early Pleistocene locality among palaeoanthropologists because of the abundant Homo remains testifying and early spread from Africa of our ancestors. Despite the herpetofaunal remains are rather rare, the following taxa have been identified: Bufo viridis, Testudo graeca, Lacerta gr. L. viridis, and cf. Elaphe quatuorlineata.
The few herpetofaunistic taxa could concurr with other vertebrates in indicating the presence of open and “relatively arid” environments.
The study of the Dmanis herpetofauna is framed into a larger project concerning the Neogene and Quaternary Georgian herpetofaunas .
12 – Osteology of Bufo brongersmai (Morocco)
Bufo brongersmai is a small toad that currently inhabits a narrow strip nearly entirely developed within the Moroccan boundaries. It is a species adapted to live in sub-Saharan environments and it is able to breed more efficiently than other species in extremely ephemeral water bodies.
The osteological analysis allowed to find several anatomical peculiarities wich could be related with its ecology and evolutionary history.
13 – Late Miocene herpetofauna from As Sahabi (Libya)
Thanks to the "East Libya Neogene Research Project" lead by Noel Boaz, new remains of Crocodylus checchiai coming from the Late Miocene Libyan locality of As Sahabi have been available for study.
Congresses and short courses
The VI European Workshop on Vertebrate Palaeontology has been organized at the Earth Sciences Department in September 2001.
A stage concerning the "Identification of the chelonian remains coming from the archaeological sites of Italy" has been recently organized at our department for the Italian Association of Archaeozoology.