There is a small number of Miocene localities with land mammals in Italy (Fig. 10.1). Almost all the known Italian Miocene land mammal faunas display endemic characteristics, testifying to a complex paleogeographic history for the ‘central’ Mediterranean during the Late Miocene.
The record of land vertebrates of Early and Middle Miocene age on the Italian mainland is made by a few isolated findings in marine sediments.
A faunule of small mammals was collected in the 1970s near Oschiri (Northeastern Sardinia). The assemblage includes a soricid: Crocidosorex antiquus (Pomel, 1853); two talpids: Geotrypus oschiriensis Rümke 1974, and Nuragha schreuderae Rümke 1974; three glirids: Myomimus sp., Microdryomys aff. koenigswaldi de Bruijn 1966, and Glis major de Bruijn 1974; and three ctenodactylids: Sardomys dawsonae de Bruijn 1974, Sardomys antoniettae de Bruijn 1974 and Pireddamys rayi de Bruijn 1974. In addition some amphibians, reptiles and terrestrial gastropods were found (De Bruijn & Rümke, 1974; Esu & Kotsakis, 1985). The fauna is oligotypic, rather unbalanced and with gigantism in rodents, so bearing characters of insular endemisms. The fauna has European affinities but includes ctenodactylids, representing African immigrants (Jaeger, 1977; Wang, 1994). Although the dating of this fauna was difficult, the age is interpreted as Middle or Late Agenian (MN 1 or MN 2).
Isolated findings in marine sediments, mainly known from old literature, testify to the occurrence of land mammals from the continental areas surrounding the Early and Middle Miocene Tethys in the ‘Mediterranean’ area (Kotsakis et al., 1997). Among these findings, of particular interest is a third lower molar of a small-sized mastodon found near the village of Burgio (Agrigento, Sicily), in Lower Burdigalian coastal calcarenites (Checchia Rispoli, 1814).