The Rupicaprini originated during the Miocene in Asia and dispersed during the late Miocene-early Pliocene, the Villafranchian, and the middle Pleistocene. Rupicapra and Oreamnos spread respectively to Europe and to North America in the middle Pleistocene. The Villafranchian Procamptoceras may be considered to be the closest known form to Rupicapra's ancestor. Rupicapra evolved during the middle and late Pleistocene in west Eurasia. At the beginning of the Würm glaciation the two closely related species R. pyrenaica and R. rupicapra were in existence. The former was already geographically split into Spanish-Pyrenean and central-southern Apennines groups, while the latter species ranged from the Caucasus to the Alpine Arch. R. pyrenaica shows more conservative features and possibly differentiated directly in western Europe from older representatives of the genus that migrated to western Europe in the middle Pleistocene. The cold-adapted Alpine chamois may have differentiated in eastern Europe and then migrated west-ward because of the advent of dry climates in the east Mediterranean and Pontic regions. The Alpine chamois failed to spread to the warmer southernmost regions of Europe that became a refugium area for R. pyrenaica. This dispersal hypothesis explains the morphologic, biometric, electrophoretic, and behavioral differences among modern chamois populations.
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