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Cueva Victoria: Cubil de carroñeros

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... Los estudios previos sobre la estratigrafía de los sedimentos fosilíferos (Ferràndez et al., 1989;Gibert et al., 2006) se centraron en demostrar que el relleno de la cueva fue un proceso continuo y que la asociación de fósiles era la misma a lo largo de toda la serie. Esta homogeneidad del contenido fosilífero era importante, dado que la mayoría de los restos fósiles se han recuperado del sedimento removilizado por la acción minera. ...
... En las zonas próximas a las entradas naturales pueden encontrarse grandes bloques producidos por colapso, mientras que las zonas interiores y las cavidades secundarias presentan granulometrías más finas. En algunas secciones puede observarse una granodecrecencia hacia el interior de la cavidad (Ferràndez et al., 1989). El proceso de relleno prosiguió hasta que el sedimento acumulado alcanzó y obturó las entradas. ...
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The vertebrate fossils from Cueva Victoria are found in the sediment that infilled karstic cavities during the Early Pleistocene. The sediment, part of an alluvial fan developed on the slopes of San Ginés Hill, penetrated through at least three subvertical entrances. The infilling was relatively rapid and continuous until it filled up the cave. Later, the sediment underwent differential compactation and percolation of saturated CaCO3 waters cemented the upper part of the breccia and formed a capping flowstone. The taphonomic processes affecting the fossils are discussed. The macromammal remains were accumulated by hienas (Pachycrocuta brevirostris) using the cave as a den, as shown by fractures and tooth marks in the bone remains, including pitting, the presence of digested bone fragments, the number of hiena juvenile individuals, the abundance of hiena coprolites, the presence of marine mammal remains in the breccia, and the ratio of skeletal parts of macromammal remains.
... Desde 1984 un equipo liderado por el profesor Josep Gibert realiza numerosas excavaciones en el yacimiento, continuando estos trabajos hoy en día. De la larga lista de publicaciones realizadas desde entonces destacan dos monografías publicadas sobre las investigaciones en la Cuenca de Guadix-Baza y en Cueva Victoria Gibert, 1992). En trabajos posteriores se comparan las asociaciones de mamíferos identificadas con otras asociaciones Europeas y africanas permitiendo precisar la cronología alrededor de 1.5 Ma. (Gibert, 1999(Gibert, , 2004. ...
... También cabe destacar una pequeña variabilidad en el P4 en cuanto a la longitud del parastilo en relación con el paracono. Por último, la presencia de abundante material deciduo, así como los gérmenes dentales, dan peso a la teoría de que el yacimiento fue un cubil de hienas (Gibert et al., 1992;Gibert, 1999). ...
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In this paper we review the collection of fossil carnivores from the late Early Pleistocene site of Cueva Victoria (south-eastern Iberian Peninsula) including the families Ursidae, Hyaenidae and Felidae. The studied material includes the species Ursus deningeri, Pachycrocuta brevirostris, Homotherium latidens, Megantereon sp., Panthera gombaszoegensis, Puma pardoides and Lynx pardinus. The former species are characteristic of the late Early Pleistocene assemblages of the Mediterranean Europe corresponding to the Epivillafranchian biochron with an approximate age of 1.1-0.78 Ma. Taking into account the known first and last appearances of the identified species the chronology of the site can be restricted to ca. 1.0 Ma.
... (F.E.R.M. 1995) que es mejorada y ampliada durante los últimos años por espeleólogos del CENM de Cartagena (ver anexo-1). La documentación minera encontrada no hace referencia a la existencia de una cavidad con acceso externo, si bien es cierto que en su interior se localiza un importante yacimiento de fósiles cuaternarios atribuidos a cubiles de hienas (Gibert at al 1993a(Gibert at al , 1993b, por lo que éstas debían acceder al interior de la cavidad. Es posible que durante el Pleistoceno los accesos a la red natural de galerías se realizaran por pequeñas aberturas y que posteriormente estas se obstruyeran. ...
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Cueva Victoria is especial cave because is part of a manganese mine, where mining activity modified the original cavity. Cueva Victoria still preserves lots of the original morphological features of a karst which allows us to reconstruct the original cave. The cave preserves many morphological elements from of an hipogenic karst and constitute a large net of rooms and galleries. Part of the cave was used as a hyena den during the early Pleistocene. During the last episode of infilling, the meteoric waters were infiltrated into the cave depositing important speleotems that cover previous detrital infilling. Some of these detrital deposits are rich in vertebrate fossils and Mn-mineralizations and were discovered and excavated by the miners. In this work we use the preserved evidences of the natural cave to reconstruct its original shape.
... The taphonomy of Cueva Victoria shows that the cave was not a human occupation site as previously suggested (Carbonell et al., 1981). In contrast, it was a den of the hyena Pachycrocuta brevirostris, as indicated by the presence of accumulated layers of hyena coprolites, the abundance of deciduous teeth of hyena, the large number of bones with tooth marks and hyena type fractures, as well as digested bones, the remains of marine mammals, and the absence of lithic tools (Gibert et al., 1992(Gibert et al., , 1993a. ...
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Cueva Victoria has provided remains of more than 90 species of fossil vertebrates, including a hominin phalanx, and the only specimens of the African cercopithecid Theropithecus oswaldi in Europe. To constrain the age of the vertebrate remains we used paleomagnetism, vertebrate biostratigraphy and (230)Th/U dating. Normal polarity was identified in the non-fossiliferous lowest and highest stratigraphic units (red clay and capping flowstones) while reverse polarity was found in the intermediate stratigraphic unit (fossiliferous breccia). A lower polarity change occurred during the deposition of the decalcification clay, when the cave was closed and karstification was active. A second polarity change occurred during the capping flowstone formation, when the upper galleries were filled with breccia. The mammal association indicates a post-Jaramillo age, which allows us to correlate this upper reversal with the Brunhes-Matuyama boundary (0.78 Ma). Consequently, the lower reversal (N-R) is interpreted as the end of the Jaramillo magnetochron (0.99 Ma). These ages bracket the age of the fossiliferous breccia between 0.99 and 0.78 Ma, suggesting that the capping flowstone was formed during the wet Marine Isotopic Stage 19, which includes the Brunhes-Matuyama boundary. Fossil remains of Theropithecus have been only found in situ ∼1 m below the B/M boundary, which allows us to place the arrival of Theropithecus to Cueva Victoria at ∼0.9-0.85 Ma. The fauna of Cueva Victoria lived during a period of important climatic change, known as the Early-Middle Pleistocene Climatic Transition. The occurrence of the oldest European Acheulean tools at the contemporaneous nearby site of Cueva Negra suggest an African dispersal into SE Iberia through the Strait of Gibraltar during MIS 22, when sea-level was ∼100 m below its present position, allowing the passage into Europe of, at least, Theropithecus and Homo bearing Acheulean technology.
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Archaeological remains have highlighted the fact that the interglacial Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 11 was a threshold from the perspective of hominin evolution in Europe. After the MIS 12 glaciation, considered one of the major climate-driven crises experienced by hominins, the archaeological records show an increasing number of occupations, evidence of new subsistence behaviors, and significant technical innovations. Here, we used statistical and geographic techniques to analyze the amphibian- and reptile-based paleoclimate and habitat reconstructions generated from a large data set of the Iberian Peninsula to (1) investigate if temperature, precipitation, and/or forest cover may have impacted the hominin occupation of the territory during the Early and Middle Pleistocene, (2) propose an ‘Iberian’ ecological model before and after the MIS 12/11 transition, and (3) evaluate, based on this model, the potential hominin occupation at a European scale. The results indicate the existence of climatic constraints on human settlement related to rainfall and environmental humidity. The Early Pleistocene and the first half of the Middle Pleistocene are dominated by the occupation of relatively humid wooded areas, whereas during the second part of the Middle Pleistocene, a broadening of the earlier ecological niche is clearly observed toward the occupation of more open arid areas. Based on the estimated occupational niche for hominins, a maximum potential distribution for early hominins is proposed in Europe before and after 426 ka. Results also indicate that parts of the Iberian Peninsula may not have been suitable for early hominin occupation. Our ecological model is consistent with the pattern of hominin occupation observed in northern and central Europe, where the earliest evidence reflects only pioneering populations merely extending their ranges in response to the expansion of their preferred habitats, as compared with a more sustained occupation by 400 ka.
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Despite the scarcity of fossil specimens of Theropithecus oswaldi in Eurasia, its presence out of Africa attests to the great dispersal of this Papionini genus during the Early Pleistocene. In the present study, we analyze the buccal dental microwear of T. oswaldi (T. o. leakeyi) fossil specimens from Cueva Victoria (Southeastern Spain). This analysis is the first characterization of the feeding ecology of T. oswaldi in Europe. The buccal microwear pattern of the molar and premolar teeth of T. oswaldi from Cueva Victoria shows great similarities to that observed for the extant frugivorous forest-dwelling Mandrillus sphinx and mangabeys (Cercocebus sp.)—both species adapted to durophagous dietary habits—while significantly different from that observed for the gramnivorous Theropithecus gelada. These results suggest that T. oswaldi from Cueva Victoria could have exploited both hard-shelled fruits or seeds and succulent fruits from open and forested Mediterranean ecosystems.
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Present paper briefly reviews the mean archaeological record proposed as evidence of human presence during Lower Pleistocene in the Iberian Peninsula. A critical review questions the ancient chronologies assigned to surface lithic collections recorded in high fluvial terraces. Nowadays, archaeological data that most likely traces the Iberian earliest human occupation are those recorded in Barranco León 5, Fuentenueva 3 (Granada), Gran Dolina, and Sima del Elefante (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos). Paying attention to this archaeological and palaeontological record, some hominid groups inhabited some Iberian areas between the normal polarity episode Gilsá (OIS 34) and the paleomagnetic boundary Brunhes/Matuyama (OIS 20), Lower/Middle Pleistocene conventional limit. This chronological proposal for the earliest human occupation on the Iberian Peninsula introduces us in the broader view of the earliest human occupation of Eurasia, giving some reflections about this phenomena and the state of the art.
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A revision is made on the taxa from the faunal assemblage of Cueva Victoria not included in this monograph and that either are to be studied or need a revision, such as the ovibovini, the mustelids, the marine mammals (Monachus sp., cetacean indet.), or the porcupines (Hystrix sp.). Also, some cites on the presence of certain taxa in Cueva Victoria, such as Hippopotamus antiquus, are revised.
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Cueva Victoria is a karst-infilling site with early Pleistocene vertebrate fossil remains. It was discovered in the first half of the XXth century by mining explotation. The fossil record of Cueva Victoria is exceptional because of its large biodiversity and because it is the only locality in Europe where the African primate Theropithecus oswaldi occurs. Here, we summarize the history of paleontological research and excavation campaigns. We provide a catalogue of the different locations in the site, and a reference list of the publications on this site.
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