Yesterday I went to Alcalá de Henares, a town located northeast of Madrid. There, I visited the Regional Archeological Museum, which held a temporary exhibit dedicated to the Cerro de los Batallones fossil site. Cerro de los Batallones, located south of Madrid, is a rich fossil site with a great amount of Miocene remains. Between 10 and 9 million years ago, the zone was covered with vertical cavities, where animals got often trapped; after their deaths, the cavities were filled with rain water, which helped to preserve the carcasses. The exhibit was amazing, containing several skeletal mounts, animated restorations and lots of artworks by Mauricio Antón (some of which can be found at his blog, chasingsabretooths.wordpress.c…
Most fossils from Cerro de los Batallones are from mammals. Among the herbivores, there are specimens of horses, deer, bovids, pigs, giraffids and even some elephants. In the photos shown below the remains of the giraffid Decennatherium rex
and the gomphothere-like Tetralophodon longirostris,
which were the biggest herbivores of the area.
However, Cerro de los Batallones is specially famous for its carnivorous mammals fossils. Most of the fossils unearthed here are from felids, bears, amphicyonids and other members of the Carnivora order. The remains of the saber-toothed cat Promegantereon
are particularly abundant, and have helped to understand deeply this species. In the photos shown below the skeletons of the saber-toothed cats Machairodus
(top) and Promegantereon
(bottom) are portrayed. In the second one, the skeleton of Machairodus can be seen in the background, which allows to compare the size of both felids
Lots of fossils from other animals have been discovered at the Cerro. Among them are the remains of rodents, lagomorphs, birds of prey, giant tortoises, varanids, frogs and even fish. The upcoming photos show the caprice of the giant tortoise Titanochelon and a frog.
At last, the museum also contained some fossils of Miocene and Pleistocene mammals in its permanent exhibit. In the museum shop some prehistoric animal figures could be found, all of them made by local artists. Some of them were devoted to the Cerro de los Batallones exhibit; for example, in the photo below a Machairodus
figure that I acquired, made by Jesús Toledo, is shown. I strongly recommend anyone who lives in Madrid and has an interest on prehistoric mammals to visit the exhibit, specially since entrance is free