INTRODUCTION

The study of animal remains preserved in volcanic ashes of the northern Bohemian rift is among the earliest paleontological research on fossil vertebrates in Europe. In this contribution, we review briefly the history of research on the Oligocene mammal-bearing localities of the Doupov Mountains (Figure 1), present the geological setting and the age of the sites, and examine the ecological conditions during that time. We also report the contemporaneous modification of bone and tooth surfaces by insects at the site of Detan.

The first notice of a fossil from the Doupov Mountains was that of Mylius (1718), who described the complete skeleton of a small rodent (“Wassermaus” also known as “Rongeur de Waltsch”) found on a limestone slab from Waltsch in about 1690. Around the same time the rodent was discovered, a number of fish representing several species was collected (Laube 1901). The slab with the rodent was moved to the collection of J.C. Richter, where it was figured and once again called Wassermaus in the catalog of the Museum Richterianum (Hebenstreit 1743). Later the slab was moved to the collections of J.H. Linck and then temporarily lost. Nevertheless, the Wassermaus from Waltsch was mentioned by Carl LinnÚ (e.g., in the 10th edition, 1758) and by Georges Cuvier (1825) in his Recherches sur les Ossements fossiles as “rat de l eau.”  Von Meyer rediscovered the lost slab with its rodent in the Sch÷nburg Castle Kabinett in Waldenburg at Glauchau, Sachsen. In 1856, he (von Meyer 1856 ) described it in detail for the first time. The last mention before the current episode of research was by Adalbert Liebus (1934).

A second set of important specimens from the Doupov Mountains was noted by Laube (1899) in a short paper on a rhinoceros tooth fragment identified as Aceratherium minutum and a pig identified as Hyotherium, both from Altes Heu at Valec. The preliminary (and incorrect) determination of the rhino served as evidence for an erroneous Miocene age assignment for the volcanic activity of the DoupovskÚ Hory Mountains. The rhinoceros tooth (a broken brachydont P1 housed in the Charles University collection) is of Ronzotherium sp., a typical lower Oligocene genus (Fejfar 1987).