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Abstract

Abstract The Cova del Rinoceront, a site in NE Iberia, contains a thick sedimentary fill preserving a faunal archive from the penultimate glacial and the the last interglacial periods. Layers I to III have been dated to between 74 and 147 ka, coinciding with MIS 5a to 5e, a period poorly represented in the Mediterranean terrestrial record. The results from Cova del Rinoceront are of broader interest for the reconstruction of ecological dynamics during warm stages and the understanding of the evolution and geographical variation of several taxa. The palaeoecological evidence suggests a landscape dominated by mixed wooded vegetation with mild climatic conditions, slightly more humid than today. Several vertebrate taxa, including Haploidoceros mediterraneus, Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis and Glis glis, are documented for the first time in the early Upper Pleistocene of Europe, showing that these species persisted across the region for longer than previously thought. In addition, the recovery of a small lithic assemblage indicates human presence in the surroundings of the site. The 11 m-thick stratigraphic section also provides an ideal setting in which to compare several geochronological methods. U–Th dating of the flowstones that cap the deposit, of speleothems formed along the cave walls, and of speleothems buried by the deposit at different elevations provides minimum and maximum ages of 74 and 175 ka, respectively, for the accumulation. The ages obtained by luminescence, electron spin resonance (ESR), amino acid racemisation (AAR), palaeomagnetism and U-series dating of bone are in good agreement with each other and are stratigraphically consistent. This well-dated faunal succession presents a unique opportunity to assess changes in the Pleistocene fauna of the Mediterranean coast over an interval of more than 100 ka.

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... The well-preserved remains of Haploidoceros mediterraneus from the Iberian Peninsula were reported by soon after this revision of the Lunel-Viel material was published. The Iberian remains of Haploidoceros mediterraneus described here are younger than those from Southern France and originate mainly in layers I and II (ranging between~74 and~130 ka, covering the isotopic stage 5; fide Daura et al. 2015) of the Cova del Rinoceront. ...
... The sequence consists of breccias formed by the degradation of wall and roof material, and contains vertebrate remains and few lithics. U-Th dating of the flowstones that cap the deposit, of speleothems formed along the cave walls, and of speleothems buried by the deposit at different elevations provides minimum and maximum ages of 74 and 175 ka, respectively, for the accumulation (Daura et al. 2015). ...
... In layers I and II, Haploidoceros mediterraneus remains constitute the bulk of the ungulates identified and represent the predominant species. Layers I and II have been dated to between 74 and 130 ka, coinciding with MIS 5 (Daura et al. 2015). ...
Article
This article reports the findings from a morphological and demographic analysis of the craniodental remains of the endemic continental deer Haploidoceros mediterraneus from the Late Pleistocene (MIS 5) of the Cova del Rinoceront (Castelldefels, Barcelona, Iberian Peninsula), the most complete assemblage of this species recorded in Europe. The presence of vestigial distal antler palmation and a posterior crown tine suggests that the genus Haploidoceros belongs to the Arvernoceros-Rucervus phylogenetic stock. The direct phyletic relationship between Haploidoceros mediterraneus and the ‘Cervus elaphoides’ from the Early Pleistocene of Venta Micena is confirmed by the dental morphology and the shape of the proximal portions of the antlers. The article discusses the evolution of the typical morphological features of H. mediterraneus: including its protruding tube-shaped orbits; relatively large cheek teeth; and, narrow, pointed premaxillary bones. The demographic structure of the cervid remains (a predominance of juvenile and prime adult males) suggests a seasonal mortality peak for young males expelled from the optimal habitat during autumn and winter.
... The sequence consists of breccias formed by degradation of wall and roof material and contains vertebrate remains and lithics. U-Th dating of the flowstones that cap the deposit, of speleothems formed along the cave walls, and of speleothems buried by the deposit at different elevations provides minimum and maximum ages of 74 and 175 ka, respectively, for the accumulation (Daura et al., 2015). Layers I and II were completely excavated between 2003 and 2010, while layer III has been partially excavated, so that today fieldwork is focused on the transition between layer III and IV (so called sub-layer IIIe). ...
... Based on the ecofactual evidences from Cova del Rinoceront, an environmental reconstruction can be drawn (Daura et al., 2015). First, the absence of species adapted to open environments, such as horse, is relevant. ...
... Fourth, the presence of Mediterranean tortoises is not only a warm climatic indicator but also a mid-high humidity marker. Together with the vegetation record, based on phytoliths and charcoal, the palaeoecological evidence suggests a landscape dominated by mixed wooded vegetation with temperate climatic conditions, slightly more humid than today (Daura et al., 2015 ). Results from the mesoand microwear analyses on H. mediterraneus indicate a diet that is compatible with the paleoenvironmental reconstruction for Cova del Rinoceront. ...
... Here, we report the analysis of the bone assemblage recovered from Layer I of the Cova del Rinoceront site, near Barcelona (Daura et al., 2015). We are especially interested in determining how ungulate carcasses accumulated in Layer I and in knowing which biological actors and processes were involved. ...
... The Cova del Rinoceront (41°16′24.92″N, 1°57′39.18″E, 25 m a.s.l.) was discovered in a former limestone quarry in the municipality of Castelldefels (Barcelona, Spain), in the northeast of Iberian Peninsula (Daura et al., 2015). The site lies close to the Mediterranean seashore and forms part of the Garraf Massif ( Fig. 1.A-B) in the central part of the Catalan Coastal Range. ...
... The Cova del Rinoceront site contains a sequence preserving the MIS 5 faunal record (Layers I to III), dated to between 74 and 130 ka, a warm period about which little is known in the Iberian Peninsula. The assemblage points to the longer persistence throughout the Upper Pleistocene than previously thought of various vertebrate species, including the rare Mediterranean deer (Haploidoceros mediterraneus) (Daura et al., 2015;Sanz et al., 2014). The cave's original morphology and its entrance (or entrances) cannot be determined due to mining activities ( Fig. 1.E). ...
Article
The Pleistocene (MIS5) site known as Cova del Rinoceront near Barcelona, Spain, contains a large assemblage of ungulate remains, among which the most dominant, in the uppermost Layer I, are those of the rare Mediterranean deer, Haploidoceros mediterraneus. In this paper, zooarchaeological and coprogenic analyses are used to evaluate the taphonomic and geological processes involved in determining the nature of the Layer I assemblage. The assemblage cannot have been generated by either hyenids or humans, nor does it constitute an accidental collection, as seen in other Pleistocene accummulations. Instead, the skeletal frequencies, coprogenic tracemarkers and the diagnostic biological damage on bones suggest it accumulated as a result of the feeding of a carnivore. The homogeneous pattern of carcass utilization and the predation of similar-sized ungulates suggest a canid as the main biological agent.
... Additionally, charcoal analyses from the sites of Terra Amata (Nice, France) and Torralba (Soria, Iberia) have also provided early data concerning firewood use among human groups (de Lumley et al. 2016;Postigo-Mijarra, Gómez-Manzaneque, and Morla 2017). Following anthracological data belonging to the MIS 5-4 chronologies have been conducted, wherein a few Middle Palaeolithic sites have provided new insights into past landscapes and human firewood management (Allué 2016;Arsuaga et al. 2012;Daura et al. 2015;Ntinou and Kyparissi-Apostolika 2016;Ronchitelli et al. 2011;Théry-Parisot 2001;Vidal-Matutano 2015;Vidal-Matutano et al. 2015;Zilhão et al. 2016), with a wider generalisation of charcoal analyses performed at MIS 3 sites (Allué, Solé, and Burguet-Coca 2016;Badal, Villaverde, and Zilhão 2012b;Théry-Parisot and Meignen 2000;Théry-Parisot and Texier 2006;Théry-Parisot et al. 1996;Uzquiano et al. 2012;Vidal-Matutano 2017;Vidal-Matutano, Henry, and Théry-Parisot 2017;Yravedra and Uzquiano 2013). ...
... Indeed, anthracological data from Terra Amata and Torralba (ca. 400 ka) and many Middle Palaeolithic sites belonging to MIS 5-3 show the dominance of this taxon, indicating the widespread presence of cryophilous pine woodlands during the Middle-Upper Pleistocene (Allué et al., in press;Allué, Solé, and Burguet-Coca 2016;Arsuaga et al. 2012;Badal and Carrión 2001;Badal and Martínez 2017;Badal, Villaverde, and Zilhão 2012b;Daura et al. 2015;Postigo-Mijarra, Gómez-Manzaneque, and Morla 2017;Uzquiano et al. 2012Uzquiano et al. , 2008Vidal-Matutano 2017;Vidal-Matutano et al. 2015;Vidal-Matutano, Henry, and Théry-Parisot 2017;Zilhão et al. 2016). While scarce anthracological data is available for MIS 7-6 chronologies in Iberia, the black pine and / or scots pine record from Bolomor Cave constitutes the earliest evidence of its presence in Eastern Iberia based on humans' collection of firewood (charcoal fragments). ...
... sylvestris wood fragments, although these non-charred material have no evidence of had been anthropically manipulated and, therefore, are not directly related with human practices (Postigo-Mijarra, Gómez-Manzaneque, and Morla 2017). According to current ecological and biogeographical data, Pinus nigra could probably have grown at low altitudes in coastal areas, as other Mediterranean sites have shown (Badal and Martínez 2017), while its presence at this site supports the descent of supramediterranean conditions by about 700-1000 m, since it has been observed at many later Mediterranean Palaeolithic sites in Iberia (Allué, Solé, and Burguet-Coca 2016; Allué et al., in press;Aura et al. 2005;Badal and Carrión 2001;Badal, Villaverde, and Zilhão 2012b;Daura et al. 2015;Esteban et al. 2017;Vidal-Matutano 2017;Vidal-Matutano et al. 2015;Zilhão et al. 2016), which implies a general decrease of 5°C in the MAT. Relatedly, further information obtained from other identified woody taxa would help to nuance the palaeoecological data derived from these levels. ...
Article
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Human control of fire is a widely debated issue in the field of Palaeolithic archaeology, since it involved significant technological innovations for human subsistence. Although fire evidence has been the subject of intense debate regarding its natural or anthropogenic nature, most authors agree that combustion structures represent the most direct evidence of human control of fire. Wood charcoal fragments from these contexts represent the fuel remains that result from humans’ collection of firewood, which means they can reveal significant behavioural and palaeoenvironmental information relevant to our understanding of Middle Palaeolithic societies. In this work, we present anthracological data derived from combustion structure 2 (level XIII, ca. 230 ka, MIS 7) and combustion structure 4 (level XI, ca. 160 ka, MIS 6) from Bolomor Cave, which are chronologically among the earliest combustion structures found in Europe. The present work discusses how the presence of black pine and / or scots pine in both levels sheds light on the characterisation of the local landscape. Additional analyses focussing on the pre- and post-depositional processes affecting charcoal preservation point to biodegradation patterns. The aim of this work is to provide the first discussion concerning the anthracological data derived from Bolomor Cave in order to contribute to the general debate regarding the use of fire during the European Middle Pleistocene.
... Además, el estudio de los remontajes proporciona una importante información sobre las relaciones temporales entre las acumulaciones en las que los elementos están situados. Estos se utilizan para demostrar que dichas acumulaciones son contemporáneas, aunque se debe tener en cuenta que la simple conexión entre dos restos no es suficiente para argumentar que dos áreas se formaron durante el mismo episodio de ocupación (Cahen y Keeley 1980;Vaquero et al., 2015). ...
... , S. Ramallo (2) , T. Rodríguez Estrella (4) , A. Blázquez (6) (1 Todos los sondeos, a excepción de MZ15 que fue empleado para análisis palinológico, fueron muestreados de acuerdo con los cambios litológicos observables y las muestras fueron destinadas a diversos análisis (sedimentología, paleontología, geoquímica orgánica, FRX, y datación por racemización de aminoácidos). Se disponía de un cierto número de dataciones por 14 C que presentaban bastantes incongruencias por ello se recurrió al empleo de dataciones por racemización de aminoácidos que en los sondeos de Cartagena había proporcionado datos muy consistentes (Ortiz et al. 2015). Desde hace unos años se está realizando el análisis de los contenidos en elementos traza para la reconstrucción de la composición atmosférica que está relacionada con aspectos paleoambientales y antrópicos. ...
... Las relaciones D/L (dextrógiro/ levógiro) del ácido aspártico de los ostrácodos de los niveles estudiados se introdujeron en el algoritmo de cálculo de edad establecido por Ortiz et al. (2015) para muestras del Holoceno. Las edades 14 C presentaban ciertas incongruencias por lo que, para definir cronológicamente las unidades, se recurrió a la datación mediante el análisis de la racemización de aminoácidos en caparazones de ostrácodos. ...
Chapter
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The principal objectives during the development of the lithotheca of the International Institute of Prehistoric Researches have been the creation of a reference collection about known outcrops of lithologic raws of archaeological interest, sampling, sistematic catalogation of the collected items and their integration on a public Geographic Information System for their use on research and public through diverse layers of information, data bases and widgets offered by this lithotheca. At the same time, different levels of geological, geographic, chronological and location information of dated archaeological sites have been integrated, allowing a wide variety of analysis.
... The publication by Daura et al. (2015) and López- showed that the chronological range of the upper part of sequence (layers I to III), as determined by U-Th dating and microfaunal evidence, relates to MIS 5, in agreement with its faunal composition that indicates widespread temperate conditions (probably equivalent to MIS 5e), mainly illustrated by the presence of the Mediterranean tortoise. ...
... bufo-spinosus, Pelophylax sp.), one lizard (Anguis fragilis), and 3 snakes (Natrix gr. natrixastreptophora, Malpolon monspessulanus, Vipera sp.) (Daura et al., 2015;Recently new datings around 200 and 235 ka have been obtained for the site of Preresa (Manzanares valley, SE Madrid), formerly attributed to MIS 5a (Rubio-Jara, 2011;Sesé et al., 2011b;Blain et al., 2013c;Panera et al., 2014), and thus suggesting an age comprised between MIS 7 and early MIS 6 (Moreno et al., in press). MAT 0.3ºC higher than current values obtained for the Preresa herpetofaunal assemblage (Blain et al., 2013c, in press) may suggest that this site would better be placed, if referring to the new dating, within MIS 7 than MIS 6. Anyway new analyses must be done to confirm the MIS attribution of this site. ...
Article
The pattern of the varying climatic conditions in southern Europe over the last million years is well known from isotope studies on deep-ocean sediment cores and the long pollen records that have been produced for lacustrine and marine sedimentary sequences from Greece, Italy and the Iberian margin. However, although relative glacial and interglacial intensities are well studied, there are still few proxies that permit quantitative terrestrial temperature and precipitation reconstruction. In this context, fauna-based climate reconstructions based on evidence preserved in archaeological or palaeontological sites are of great interest, even if they only document short windows of that climate variability, because (a) they provide a range of temperature and precipitation estimates that are understandable in comparison with present climate; (b) they may allow the testing of predicted temperature changes under scenarios of future climate change; and (c) quantitative temperature and precipitation estimates for past glacials and interglacials for specific regions/latitudes can help to understand their effects on flora, fauna and hominids, as they are directly associated with those cultural and/or biological events. Moreover such reconstructions can bring further arguments to the discussion about important climatic events like the Mid-Bruhnes Event, a climatic transition between moderate warmths and greater warmths during interglacials. In this paper we review a decade of amphibian- and reptile-based climate reconstructions carried out for the Iberian Peninsula using the Mutual Ecogeographic Range method in order to present a regional synthesis from MIS 22 to MIS 6, discuss the climate pattern in relation to the Mid-Bruhnes Event and the thermal amplitude suggested by these estimates and finally to identify the chronological gaps that have still to be investigated.
... Recently, other research approaches have been applied to charcoal analysis from a palaeoeconomical point of view based on experimentation, observation of microanatomical features due to biological or mechanical processes, dendrological studies or spatial analysis of anthracological remains (Carrión, 2007;Caruso et al., 2014;Henry and Théry-Parisot, 2014;Marguerie and Hunot, 2007;Théry-Parisot and Costamagno, 2005;Théry-Parisot and Henry, 2012;Vidal-Matutano, 2017;Vidal-Matutano et al., 2017a;Vidal-Matutano et al., 2017b). Nevertheless, despite the great advances made in anthracology, there are still very few published studies in Middle Palaeolithic contexts from Iberia (Allué et al., 2017;Allué et al., 2018;Badal et al., 2012a;Daura et al., 2015;Gale and Garruthers, 2000;Ros, 1985;Uzquiano, 1992Uzquiano, , 2005Uzquiano et al., 2008;Uzquiano et al., 2012;Vidal-Matutano, 2017;Vidal-Matutano et al., 2015;Vidal-Matutano et al., 2017a;Vidal-Matutano et al., 2017b;Vidal-Matutano et al., 2018;Zilhao et al., 2016) although they constitute valuable data to go further in our understanding of Iberian Middle Palaeolithic landscapes this situation. Another point concerning the sampling methods used should be highlighted. ...
... During MIS 5 period, the number of sites is still scarce (Fig. 3). Available data is very fragmented and come from Cueva del Camino, level 5 (Arsuaga et al., 2012), Teixoneres, level II (López-García et al., 2012), Cova del Rinoceront, level I (Daura et al., 2015) and Cueva Antón, level AS5 (Zilhão et al., 2016). At Cueva del Camino and Teixoneres, both located at an altitude higher than or equal to 900 m a.s.l., the dominance of cryophi-lous pines is recorded together with the presence of other taxa like birch or mixed plant formations of Maloideae (Rosaceae family) and Quercus sp. ...
Article
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In this paper, a state of the art regarding the available anthracological data from Middle Palaeolithic contexts in Iberia is presented. The information retrieved is still very scarce and fragmented, as many Iberian areas present palaeobotanical gaps leading to the lack of information regarding local landscape dynamics. The use of different sampling methods to recover wood charcoal remains is a decisive factor which hampers the comparative study, although the dominance of Pinus nigra-sylvestris (black-scots pine) is recorded since, at least, Marine Isotopic Stage 6. This would indicate the widespread presence of cryophilous pine woodlands during the Upper Pleistocene in Iberia pointing to the prevalence of supramediterranean conditions (MAT = 8-13 ºC). This state of the art aims to contribute to our understanding of Upper Pleisto-cene Iberian landscapes based on Neanderthal firewood gathering activities.
... While located in a relatively stable climatic Mediterranean zone characterized by patchy landscapes as attested in several stratigraphic sequences of the MIS 5 to 3, e.g. Abric Romaní, Cova Gran, Coll Verdaguer, Riera de les Terrases dels Canyars, or Cova del Rinoceront (Allué et al., 2018Daura et al., 2017Daura et al., , 2015Fernández-García, 2019;Fernández-García et al., 2016;López-García et al., 2015), the latitude and altitude characteristics of Arbreda and Teixoneres caves could have influenced the feeding strategies of the fauna living around. However, the dietary behaviour observed for the two most common ungulates, Cervus elaphus and Equus ferus, do not show adaptive changes irrespective of the site and stratigraphic level (Ramírez-Pedraza et al., 2019). ...
... Indeed, level J from Abric Romaní (50.4 ± 1.6 to 49.3 ± 1.6 ka BP) (Bischoff, 1988;Vallverdu, 2012;Vaquero, 2013) and the Mousterian sequence from Cova Coll de Verdaguer (Barcelona, Spain) (56-34 ka BP) show the predominance of temperate conditions. Besides the significant presence of wooded areas similarly to that observed in sub-unit IIIb of Teixoneres Cave Daura et al., 2015). By contrast, level J (Arbreda Cave) and subunit IIIa (Teixoneres Cave) are consistent with the spread of open areas and maintenance of forests during the colder-dryer environmental pulsations. ...
Article
Diet is closely connected to the habitat exploited by ungulates and is one of the main links between them and the surrounding environment. When climatic fluctuations modified the vegetal coverture and habitat, ungulates' dietary behaviours and ecological niches could have been impacted severely. During the Middle Palaeolithic, the Mediterranean peninsulas were known to be climatic refuges because they seemed less susceptible to these changes. However, the altitude or latitude of a given site may have resulted in local particularities that could have influenced the vegetal composition and therefore the feeding behaviour of ungulates from the same region. In the present research we investigate whether these variables necessitated adaptive changes in the feeding behaviours of ungulates hunted by Neanderthals through the study of two archaeological sites, Arbreda Cave (Serinyà, Girona, Spain) and Teixoneres Cave (Moià, Barcelona, Spain). We use a combined analysis of dental wear (meso- and microwear) and dental cementum analysis of Cervus elaphus, Equus ferus, and Equus hydruntinus teeth. Dental wear reflects the immediate and average annual dietary traits of ungulates as well as the environmental conditions in the surroundings. Dental cementum analysis allows accurately identifying the season of ungulate death and linking an individual's dietary preferences with the seasonal conditions in its last moments of life. As results, red deer at both sites were mixed-feeders in the annual cycle. A slight increase in grass consumption was identified during winter for populations from sub-unit IIIa of Teixoneres Cave. Horse and wild ass based their diet on grasses, but the latter showed seasonal adaptation toward a mixed consumption of grasses and concentrate resources (i.e. leaves, shrubs, forbs, and other woody plants). The seasonal feeding adaptations observed for some of the studied species did not strongly influence their general dietary trends because they kept feeding on the same resources annually.
... This period was previously called the Eemian (Harting 1852). In the Iberian Peninsula there are few palaeontological deposits attributed to this period : Bolomor Cave (Blasco et al. 2008), Cova Negra (Villaverde et al. 2014), Teixoneres Cave (Rosell I Ardèvol et al. 2010), Cova del Rinoceront (Daura et al. 2015), HAT (Panera et al. 2005), Camino Cave (Álvarez-Lao et al. 2013) and Imanolen Arrobia . ...
... (Estévez 1975), cova del gegant (Viñas and Villalta 1975), los rincones (sauqué and cuenca-Bescós 2013). (Daura et al. 2015), HAT (Panera et al. 2005), Camino Cave (Álvarez-Lao et al. 2013) and Imanolen Arrobia . Six of the samples are palimpsests of alternative occupations of humans and carnivores, although in Cova del Rinoceront the action of the carnivores is predominant. ...
Article
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Artazu VII palaeontological site (Arrasate, Gipuzkoa) is one of the few deposits in the Iberian Peninsula in which humans did not intervene in its formation as the site acted as a natural trap. The vertebrate remains recovered are in a very good state of preservation and display great biodiversity. The large mammal assemblage from Artazu VII is studied in detail in this paper. Fourteen different species are described, including ungulates and carnivores. Morphological and osteometric descriptions are also provided, as well as a morphological study of chamois and leopard compared with the same species of similar chronology both in the surroundings of the site and in the rest of the Iberian Peninsula. The existence of biases related to the form of the shaft is tested, as these might relativize the value of the remains as a representative proxy of the fauna in the early Late Pleistocene in the Iberian Peninsula. The palaeoecology inferred from this association indicates the existence of a woodland mass alternating with meadow biotope, and with a watercourse in the surrounding area.
... In MIS 5e the species richness was noticeably greater (22 species) than at the end of MIS 6a, though lower than during the entire stage MIS 6. In our sample the amount of localities dated to the interglacial is relatively small: Villacastin (Arribas, 1994a(Arribas, , 1994b, Arenero del arroyo Culebro 1 (Panera et al., 2014), Cueva del Angel, Fuente Nueva-3 (upper archaeological level) (Martínez Navarro et al., 1997), and Cova del Rinoceront (layers IIIa, IIId, and IIIe) (Sanz et al., 2014;Daura et al., 2015;Sanz and Daura, 2018;López-García et al., 2016). The faunal assemblage of MIS 5e includes the following mammal species: P. antiquus, M. intermedius, S. hundsheimensis (Cova del Rinoceront, layer III (Daura et al., 2015)), S. hemitoechus, E. ferus, E. hydruntinus, C. elaphus, D. dama, B. priscus, B. primigenius, H. albus, H. bonali, C. pyrenaica, S. scrofa, C. lupus, V. vulpes, L. pardinus, F. silvestris, U. arctos, U. spelaeus, M. eversmanii, and M. meles. ...
... In our sample the amount of localities dated to the interglacial is relatively small: Villacastin (Arribas, 1994a(Arribas, , 1994b, Arenero del arroyo Culebro 1 (Panera et al., 2014), Cueva del Angel, Fuente Nueva-3 (upper archaeological level) (Martínez Navarro et al., 1997), and Cova del Rinoceront (layers IIIa, IIId, and IIIe) (Sanz et al., 2014;Daura et al., 2015;Sanz and Daura, 2018;López-García et al., 2016). The faunal assemblage of MIS 5e includes the following mammal species: P. antiquus, M. intermedius, S. hundsheimensis (Cova del Rinoceront, layer III (Daura et al., 2015)), S. hemitoechus, E. ferus, E. hydruntinus, C. elaphus, D. dama, B. priscus, B. primigenius, H. albus, H. bonali, C. pyrenaica, S. scrofa, C. lupus, V. vulpes, L. pardinus, F. silvestris, U. arctos, U. spelaeus, M. eversmanii, and M. meles. The maximum species richness (34 species) is recorded in MIS 5с -MIS 5a. ...
Article
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The Middle Pleistocene – Late Pleistocene transition of European large mammal's fauna (Proboscidea, Artiodactyla, Perissodactyla, Carnivora, Hystrix and Castor) assemblages has been studied in 18 European regional faunal assemblages. This study is based on the data yielded from 423 palaeontological sites (758 localities) dated within interval of MIS 6–MIS 4. All the data was aggregated by 9 time intervals (time scale). For ten bioregions, we have been able to obtain descriptive models of evolution of their faunal assemblages. It allowed detecting common rules of changes in large mammals' fauna composition in Europe on the whole as well as changes in the distribution of individual species and their groups within the regions. We have studied the changes in biodiversity parameters (Shannon index, index of self-organization) and Mourelle–Ezcurra species turnover index within MIS 6–MIS 4 time interval. The evolution of European fauna was compared for MIS 6–MIS 5 transition and MIS 2–MIS 1 transition as well as influence of change in global temperature on these transitions was described. In addition, we have showed the correlation between modern species richness with the species richness in MIS 6, MIS 5 and MIS 4 and proposed the hypothesis of historical succession of European bioregions.
... Cronológicamente, la Cova del Rinoceront se sitúa entre los 74 y los 175 ka aproximadamente. Los niveles superiores corresponden mayoritariamente al MIS 5 (74-147 ka) y representan una de las pocas secuencias de esta cronología para la cuenca del Mediterráneo ( Daura et al., 2015). Los restos recuperados en el yacimiento corresponden principalmente a restos de fauna, aunque también se han recuperado otros indicadores bioarqueológicos y escasos restos líticos (Daura y Sanz, 2009b). ...
... Esto nos lleva a plantear que su presencia al otro lado de los Pirineos SERP sería el resultado de una expansión de poblaciones ibéricas bien establecidas, y que su presencia allí tendría un carácter endémico ( Croitor et al., 2008). En este yacimiento también se han documentado por primera vez en el Pleistoceno superior otras especies, como el rinoceronte Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis o el córvido Corvax antecorax, que evidencian la perduración de ciertos taxones propios del Pleistoceno medio ( Daura et al., 2015). ...
... This type of archaeological context-carnivore dens or trapped animals in caves with a few lithic remains-is common in the Iberian Middle Palaeolithic record [86][87][88][89][90] and identifying the nature of the anthropogenic processes carried out at the sites is a particularly challenging task. Some of the lithic assemblages recovered at these sites have been interpreted as the result of short visits by humans in the context of resource provisioning. ...
... Some of the lithic assemblages recovered at these sites have been interpreted as the result of short visits by humans in the context of resource provisioning. However, it has also been suggested that, in some instances and especially in carnivore dens, lithic and faunal remains might be accidentally associated, since artifacts may have been moved into the caves by natural gravitational processes [91] or washed in [88]. In addition, we should bear in mind that archaeological assemblages tend to be comprised of large time-averaged palimpsests resulting from the outcome of an indeterminate, superimposed number of events occurring over a long time span [1,2]. ...
Article
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Lateral Gallery 1 (GL1) in Cova del Gegant is a Middle Palaeolithic assemblage yielding diagnostic Neanderthal remains, together with Mousterian tools and faunal remains. It is a good archive for evaluating the environmental conditions of the coastal areas during MIS 4 and MIS 3 in the NE of the Iberian Peninsula, and also the Neanderthals’ behaviour and mobility. Here we provide a comprehensive assessment of all of the data available from GL1, such as lithics, human remains, fauna and chronostratigraphic details. The biotic ecofacts studied point to the development of a coastal plain in front of the cave and indicate that local conditions likely favoured a large variety of ecosystems characterised by open environments and woodland-edge taxa, and favoured repeated visits by humans during the Middle Palaeolithic. The evidence suggests that the gallery was mainly used by carnivores, such as hyenas, and also by Neanderthals as a brief stopping place, in view of the presence of transported and abandoned ergonomic lithic artifacts and/or the placement of bodies (or parts of bodies). The regional context suggests high human mobility and emphasises the variability of Neanderthal behaviour.
... however, thus far, none have been revealed to present bone assemblages produced exclusively by non-human predators. Carnivore dens prove scarce throughout the rest of the Iberian Peninsula and, among those, most are hyena dens: Cueva del Búho (Iñigo et al., 1988), Venta Micena (Palmqvist et al., 1996), Cova del Rinoceront (Daura et al., 2010), Fonelas P1 (Garrido Álvarez-Coto et al., 2010), Atapuerca TD8 level of Gran Dolina (Blasco et al., 2011), Maltravieso (Rodríguez hidalgo et al., 2010, Cueva de los huesos de Obón, (Cuenca-Bescós et al., 2010) and Cueva de las Ventanas (Riquelme Cantal and Carrión García, 2010), Coll Verdaguer (Daura et al., 2015), Cueva del Camino (Arsuaga et al., 2012), and Cueva de la Zarzamora (Sala et al., 2011). ...
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A taphonomic and systematic study of a large mammals assemblage preserved in an early Upper Pleistocene deposit at Imanolen Arrobia (Deba, northern Spain) is offered in this report. Skeletal profiles, long bone fragmentation and tooth marks shows that wild goat and chamois carcasses were transported and consumed in the cave by carnivores. The abundance of juvenile remains indicates a selection of prey by carnivores that preferentially killed immature individuals. After considering the frequencies of different carnivores in the assemblage and other taphonomic and neo-taphonomic features, the leopard (Panthera pardus) is proposed as possibly responsible for the hunting and transport of the ungulate remains to the cave, though the wolf (Canis lupus) cannot be completely discounted. Subsequently, the bones were probably modified by foxes (Vulpes vulpes) that used the cave as a breeding den. A metric study compares the most frequent species (Capra pyrenaica, Rupicapra pyrenaica, Panthera pardus and Vulpes vulpes) using comparative data from the Cantabrian region and especially from the Basque Country. It shows that the Imanolen Arrobia measurements are within the range of variation of fossil species in the northern Iberian Peninsula.
... These contexts are composed of small lithic assemblages associated with faunal assemblages formed mainly by natural processes (animals falling into natural traps, carnivorous activity). These are generally cave sites located in the steep landscapes of the Coastal or Pre-coastal Cordillera (Cova del Rinoceront, Cova dels Ermitons, Cova 120, Cova de Coll Verdaguer, Cova del Gegant, Cueva de Mollet) (Daura et al. 2010(Daura et al. , 2015Maroto et al. 1996Maroto et al. , 2012Sanz et al. 2016;Terradas and Rueda 1998). The human activity would be related with short visits to exploit naturally-occurring resources, or for occasional use of the sites for shelter. ...
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This paper focuses on the study of some Middle Palaeolithic assemblages from Mediterranean Iberia to examine Neanderthal occupation patterns and territory management strategies, paying special attention to raw material procurement and technological behaviours, zooarchaeological data and microspatial patterning. The site occupation types are variable, and some of the results may have more importance than is immediately apparent, but there does not seem to be a single cultural, functional, temporal or environmental explanation. Rather, the wide variability in the technical behaviours observed can be explained with reference to the particular requirements of the populations in each specific region. The results obtained allow us to interrogate the data and, drawing comparisons with the southwest European context, establish an initial approach to Neanderthal subsistence strategies and mobility in a region so far little known in this aspect.
... Although the Pyrenees were covered by ice caps during the Quaternary glacial phases (Calvet et al. 2011), the proximity to the western Mediterranean Sea permitted the maintenance of open woodland habitats in the region stretched between the Pre-Pyrenees and the coast Burjachs et al. 2012;González-Sampériz et al. 2010). These advantageous conditions favoured the continuous settlement of this territory during the Middle Palaeolithic (Daura et al. 2015;de la Torre et al. 2013;Vaquero et al. 2013), but only during the climatic ameliorations, Neanderthals expanded their foraging forays to higher altitudinal locations of the Pre-Pyrenees (Arilla et al. 2013;Rosell et al. 2000). ...
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Short-term settlement of Middle Paleolithic hunters leaves a specific toolkit on an archaeological site. In spite of this well-known fact, in some cases, concerning the duration of stay of groups of Neanderthals, mere techno-typological analysis of lithic assemblages seems insufficient. Analysis of raw material exploitation, combined with information about long use, or reworking of certain artifacts appears to be helpful. On most sites from the Middle Paleolithic, archaeological data concerning the raw material procurement shows that it generally had a local character. However, on a range of sites known from uplands of Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland, artifacts prepared of raw material transported from distant outcrops can be found. Such artifacts are usually reworked, showing traces of their long use and value for prehistoric people. It can be assumed that there exists a link between the settlement duration and the knowledge about the explored area, which can be observed in some lithic assemblages. Situation, where a large variability of regional raw material is represented on a site, can be treated as an indicator of stable settlement, while varied exotic raw materials’ presence documents an increase in group mobility.
... Although the Pyrenees were covered by ice caps during the Quaternary glacial phases (Calvet et al. 2011), the proximity to the western Mediterranean Sea permitted the maintenance of open woodland habitats in the region stretched between the Pre-Pyrenees and the coast Burjachs et al. 2012;González-Sampériz et al. 2010). These advantageous conditions favoured the continuous settlement of this territory during the Middle Palaeolithic (Daura et al. 2015;de la Torre et al. 2013;Vaquero et al. 2013), but only during the climatic ameliorations, Neanderthals expanded their foraging forays to higher altitudinal locations of the Pre-Pyrenees (Arilla et al. 2013;Rosell et al. 2000). ...
... Although the Pyrenees were covered by ice caps during the Quaternary glacial phases (Calvet et al. 2011), the proximity to the western Mediterranean Sea permitted the maintenance of open woodland habitats in the region stretched between the Pre-Pyrenees and the coast Burjachs et al. 2012;González-Sampériz et al. 2010). These advantageous conditions favoured the continuous settlement of this territory during the Middle Palaeolithic (Daura et al. 2015;de la Torre et al. 2013;Vaquero et al. 2013), but only during the climatic ameliorations, Neanderthals expanded their foraging forays to higher altitudinal locations of the Pre-Pyrenees (Arilla et al. 2013;Rosell et al. 2000). ...
Chapter
Short-term human occupations could occur in very distinct places and be related to very different behaviours. The low number of items left by the human groups in these sites, usually, generates discrete assemblages, which often are difficult to disentangle. In the European Middle Palaeolithic, short-term human occupations in caves and rock-shelters, frequented by carnivores as hibernation places, dens or refuges, are common. From an archaeological perspective, the resulting assemblages are a mixture of anthropogenic and carnivore items (palimpsests) in which the intensity of human occupation(s) is usually measured by the quantity of recovered lithic artefacts, hearths or modified bones. The detailed study of these sites is pivotal to understand the development of the human communities in a landscape, their movements across the territory, the diversity of activities performed and the relationships stablished within the other biological entities (mainly carnivores). This paper aims to present data on four Middle Palaeolithic sites in the Northeast of the Iberian Peninsula characterized by short-term occupations in carnivore contexts. The results indicate a complex scenario in terms of settlement patterns and movements of Neanderthals in mountainous environments ranging from occasional visits to carnivore dens for hunting or active scavenging to full-scale, planned occupations during the course of seasonal foraging activities.
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This paper presents the results of anthracological analyses conducted to further the palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of NE Iberia and to provide better insights into the impact of human activity on the landscape. This study is based on the analysis of charred plant remains from five archaeological sites located ∼20 km to the southwest of the city of Barcelona. The site chronology spans from the Upper Pleistocene to the mid-Holocene. The MIS 5-stage is represented by the Cova del Rinoceront (ca. 74–175 ka), which yielded scarce anthracological remains, composed primarily of angiosperms. MIS 3 and the HS4 stadial are represented by the Cova del Coll Verdaguer (ca. 33.4–55 ka) and the Terrasses de la Riera dels Canyars (39.6 ka cal BP) respectively, both pointing to the recurrent presence of Pinus sylvestris type. The Holocene record is represented by the Cova Bonica (ca. 7200–4600 cal BP), presenting a predominance of Quercus, Pinus and a considerable variability of shrubs and small tree types. Finally, Cal Maurici (ca. 6100–3700 cal BP) constitutes a natural deposit in shallow marshes, and presents charcoals washed down the river. The sequence presented is completed and compared with other sequences located in NE Iberia. The assemblages allow us to evaluate the evolution and transformation of the forested landscapes originated by the climate variations that occurred during the Upper Pleistocene and Holocene and to assess changes in the woody vegetation resulting from cultural or natural transformations. These outcomes are discussed in terms of a comparison of natural vs. anthropogenic anthracological records and the data are contextualized and examined in the broader context of the other assemblages recovered in the NE Iberian Peninsula.
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Overlying a palustrine deposit of unknown age (complex FP), and protected from weathering and erosion inside a large cave/rock-shelter cavity, the sedimentary fill of Cueva Antón, a Middle Paleolithic site in SE Spain, corresponds in most part (sub-complexes AS2-to-AS5) to a ca.3 m-thick Upper Pleistocene terrace of the River Mula. Coupled with the constraints derived from the deposit’s paleoclimatic proxies, OSL dating places the accumulation of this terrace in MIS 5a, and radiocarbon dates from the overlying breccia cum alluvium (sub-complex AS1) fall in the middle part of MIS 3; the intervening hiatus relates to valley incision and attendant erosion. The two intervals represented remain largely unknown in Iberia, where the archeology of the early-to-middle Upper Pleistocene is almost entirely derived from karst sites; Cueva Antón shows that this dearth of data, often interpreted in demographic terms, has depositional underpinnings ultimately determined by past climate variation. In early MIS 5a, the paleobotanical evidence indicates climate conditions similar to present, albeit wetter, followed by progressive cooling, reflected in the replacement of Aleppo pine by black pine and, at the very end, juniper-dominated landscapes — the latter characterizing also mid-MIS 3 times. The variation in sedimentary facies and composition of the mollusk assemblages reflects the changing position of the river channel relative to the back wall of the cave. Such changes represented the major constraint for the occupation of the site — most of the time inaccessible to terrestrial mammals, it was used throughout by the eagle-owl, explaining the abundance of rabbit bones. Human occupation occurred during a few, short windows of availability, and is reflected in well-preserved living floors defined by hearths, artefact scatters, and the remains of hunted herbivores. The stone tool assemblages are Middle Paleolithic, which, in Europe, implies a Neandertal identity for their makers and, hence, that Neandertals persisted in the region until GI 8. Cueva Antón’s high-resolution record provides unique, critical information on the paleoenvironments and adaptations of humans in two short windows of time during which wetter conditions existed in SE Iberia, where arid or semi-arid climates prevailed through most of the Upper Pleistocene and the Holocene.
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Marine isotope stage 3 (MIS 3) was characterised by marked oscillations of extreme cold episodes with very short warm events during the stadial, and several regional differences have been recorded in the ice cores and marine deposits. The aim of this study is to reconstruct this period by evaluating both terrestrial and regional responses. Cova del Coll Verdaguer, a site located on the Iberian Peninsula, preserves a sedimentary deposit dated to between 34 and 56 ka BP and provides an opportunity for evaluating the impact of climate changes on the regional landmass during a period that coincided with the last Neanderthal population on the Iberian Peninsula. Several dating methods, including U-series, electron spin resonance, amino acid racemization and radiocarbon (14C), were applied to the site and the ages obtained show good agreement. The biotic evidence obtained is substantial, comprising floristic data from palynology and charcoal analysis, and faunal data from large and small mammals, birds and gastropods. Environmental reconstruction points to an initially open meadow landscape at the base of the sequence (∼56 ka) that progressively changes to a woodland environment dominated by conifers (∼34 ka). The presence of few thermophilous taxa, in contrast with lower latitudes of the Iberian Peninsula, is also detected. The environmental conditions of mid-altitude, Mediterranean, limestone mountains for the last Neanderthal populations appear to have been dominated by a forested landscape comprising boreal or mixed coniferous forest, characterised by a low usable biomass with poor comestible plant resources and dispersed herbivore populations.
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The habitat weighting method, chorotype classification and the bioclimatic model, as well as the Simpson diversity index, are applied to the small-vertebrate assemblage of Cova del Rinoceront (Castelldefels, Barcelona) in order to reconstruct the environmental and climatic fluctuations that are reflected in the MIS 5 sequence of the cave. The small-vertebrate data analysed are from Unit 1 of the sequence, which comprises three MIS 5 layers (III to I). They allow one cool and two warm episodes to be identified within the section. The warm episodes are related with open-woodland formations and temperatures higher than at present in the area, though in layer III our data suggest moist conditions, with the precipitation higher than today, which could probably be related with the beginning of MIS 5e. Layer II is associated with drier conditions, with precipitation lower than nowadays, which could probably be related with MIS 5c. By contrast, layer I is associated with open woodland formations, but with cooler and relatively humid conditions than today to judge by the temperature and precipitation data obtained. This could probably be related with MIS 5b. Our results are consistent with the available chronological, large-mammal, bird and palaeobotanical datasets for this upper part of the sequence. They are also consistent with the pollen record from the marine margins of Iberia.
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The environmental and climatic evolution of the late Middle Pleistocene to Late Pleistocene of the Garraf Massif (northeastern Iberia) is determined for Marine Isotope Stage 7 (MIS 7) to MIS 3 on the basis of a study of the small-vertebrate (amphibian, squamate reptile, insectivore, bat and rodent) assemblages. This paper provides a synthesis of three previously published and one partially published sets of environmental and climatic data from the Middle to Upper Paleolithic sites of Cova del Rinoceront, Cova del Gegant, Cova del Coll Verdaguer and Terrasses de la Riera dels Canyars, all of which are located in the Garraf Massif mountain range. Using the habitat weighting and mutual ecogeographic range methods to reconstruct the environmental and climatic parameters, the results show great variability in the landscape and climate of the area. However, although the human occupation is not intense in the analyzed sites, the various layers of the sites in which the human presence is relatively more intense coincide with landscapes dominated by woodland formations in mild climatic conditions. A comparison of our results with those from other sites with studies of small vertebrates in Greece, Italy, southern France, and the Iberian Peninsula reveals the same pattern, showing that the hominins that inhabited the western Mediterranean region in the late Middle Pleistocene and Late Pleistocene were closely related to forested areas.
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Small mammal remains obtained from the European localities dated to the Eemian (Mikulino) age have been analyzed for the first time at a regional scale based on the present biogeographical regionalization of Europe. The regional faunas dated to the warm interval in the first part of the Late Pleistocene display notable differences in fauna composition, species richness, and diversity indices. The classification of regional faunal assemblages revealed distinctive features of small mammal faunas in Eastern and Western Europe during the Eemian (=Mikulino, =Ipswichian) Interglacial. Faunas of the Iberian Peninsula, Apennine Peninsula, and Sardinia Island appear to deviate from the other regions. In the Eemian Interglacial, the maximum species richness of small mammals (≥40 species) with a relatively high proportion of typical forest species was recorded in Western and Central Europe and in the western part of Eastern Europe. The lowest species richness (5–14 species) was typical of island faunas and of those in the north of Eastern Europe. The data obtained make it possible to reconstruct the distribution of forest biotopes and open habitats (forest-steppe and steppe) in various regions of Europe. Noteworthy is a limited area of forests in the south and in the northeastern part of Europe. In these regions, it seems likely that under conditions of relatively high temperatures characteristic of the Last Interglacial and an insufficient moisture supply there could exist open forest stands or forest-steppe landscapes, as suggested by the presence of species indicative of forest-steppe and steppe north of the forest zone. The results obtained are useful in modeling changes in the mammal faunas as well as environmental changes in entire Europe due to global climatic changes (including the global warming recorded at present).
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Des restes de bouquetins morphologiquement comparables à l’actuel Capra caucasica Güldenstädt et Pallas, 1783 ont été reconnus dans une vingtaine de sites du Pléistocène supérieur de France. Ce bouquetin a été attribué à une nouvelle sous-espèce Capra caucasica praepyrenaica Crégut-Bonnoure, 2002 et a été considéré comme l’ancêtre de Capra pyrenaica Schinz, 1838. Ce scénario ne fait pas l’unanimité, les analyses moléculaires suggérant une filiation entre Capra ibex et C. pyrenaica. Une étude biométrique de ces taxons et de divers autres Capra, parmi lesquels Capra primaeva Arambourg, 1979 d’Aïn Brimba (Tunisie), a été réalisée à partir d’une base de données de 115 gisements européens regroupant 5501 dents supérieures et inférieures. Ce travail s’appuie à la fois sur l’utilisation d’un arbre de régression, ou arbre de décision, ainsi que sur une analyse en composantes principales lesquels permettent de mieux distinguer ces divers taxons en particulier grâce à la M3 supérieure. Des proximités biométriques dentaires sont mises en évidence entre certains taxons en relation avec les variations latitudinales et le rôle éventuel du Rhône en France comme barrière ou filtre géographique. Ces analyses distinguent clairement le Bovidae d’Ain Brimba des Capra, appuyant l’hypothèse de son attribution au nouveau genre Pseudocapra Crégut-Bonnoure, 2002. Remains of ibex morphologically comparable to the current C. caucasica Güldenstädt and Pallas, 1783 have been recognized in about twenty sites of the Upper Pleistocene of France. This ibex has been attributed to a new subspecies Capra caucasica praepyrenaica Crégut-Bonnoure, 2002 and was considered as the ancestor of Capra pyrenaica Schinz, 1838. This scenario is not unanimous, some molecular analyzes suggesting a lineage between Capra ibex and C. pyrenaica. A biometric study of these taxa and various other Capra species, including Capra primaeva Arambourg, 1979 of Aïn Brimba (Tunisia), was carried out using a database of 115 European sites with 5501 upper and lower teeth. This work is based on both statistical regression tree or decision tree and principal component analysis, which allow to better distinguish these different taxa in particular thanks to the upper M3. Dental biometric similarities are evident between certain taxa in relation to latitudinal variations and the possible role of the Rhône in France as a barrier or geographical filter. These analyzes clearly distinguish the Bovidae from Aïn Brimba from the genus Capra, supporting the hypothesis of its attribution to the new genus Pseudocapra Crégut-Bonnoure, 2002.
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The article presents a description of cervid remains from the Middle Pleistocene Acheulean site of Gruta da Aroeira (= Galerias Pesadas) in central Portugal. The assemblage comprises the remains of four deer species: Cervus elaphus, Praedama cf. savini, Haploidoceros mediterraneus, and Dama cf. vallonnetensis, making Gruta da Aroeira the first site in the Iberian Peninsula at which the genus Haploidoceros has been documented in the Middle Pleistocene. Virtually all the cervids documented at the site demonstrate a degree of endemism, including evolutionary modifications of skull, antlers and dentition or a reduction in body size. The unusual richness of the cervid community at Gruta da Aroeira may be related to the specific biogeographic conditions of the Middle Pleistocene in Iberia. Thus, while the Iberian Peninsula’s geographical link with the temperate west Eurasian zone facilitated the dispersal of cervids of palearctic origin into Iberia, it impeded the dispersal of ruminants from warmer, more arid areas. The endemic character of the Middle Pleistocene cervids and the biodiversity of the Iberian Peninsula should shed some light on the paleobiogeography of Iberian hominins and their role in hominin hunting or their economic strategies.
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There is a relatively low amount of Middle Paleolithic sites in Europe dating to MIS 4. Of the few that exist, several of them lack evidence for anthropogenic fire, raising the question of how this period of global cooling may have affected the Neanderthal population. The Iberian Peninsula is a key area to explore this issue, as it has been considered as a glacial refugium during critical periods of the Neanderthal timeline and might therefore yield archaeological contexts in which we can explore possible changes in the behaviour and settlement patterns of Neanderthal groups during MIS 4. Here we report recent data from Abric del Pastor, a small rock shelter in Alcoy (Alicante, Spain) with a stratified deposit containing Middle Palaeolithic remains. We present absolute dates that frame the sequence within MIS 4 and multi-proxy geoarchaeological evidence of in situ anthropogenic fire, including microscopic evidence of in situ combustion residues and thermally altered sediment. We also present archaeostratigraphic evidence of recurrent, functionally diverse, brief human occupation of the rock shelter. Our results suggest that Neanderthals occupied the Central Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula during MIS 4, that these Neanderthals were not undergoing climatic stress and they were habitual fire users.
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To understand the current biodiversity crisis, it is crucial to determine how humans have affected biodiversity in the past. However, the extent of human involvement in species extinctions from the Late Pleistocene onward remains contentious. Here, we apply Bayesian models to the fossil record to estimate how mammalian extinction rates have changed over the past 126,000 years, inferring specific times of rate increases. We specifically test the hypothesis of human-caused extinctions by using posterior predictive methods. We find that human population size is able to predict past extinctions with 96% accuracy. Predictors based on past climate, in contrast, perform no better than expected by chance, suggesting that climate had a negligible impact on global mammal extinctions. Based on current trends, we predict for the near future a rate escalation of unprecedented magnitude. Our results provide a comprehensive assessment of the human impact on past and predicted future extinctions of mammals.
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We analysed the diversity of the cytochrome b gene in Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica) populations in the southern Iberian Peninsula by sequencing a fragment (987 bp) of this gene in 347 ibex from 10 population nuclei in Andalusia. We found 25 different haplotypes, which account for 64.10% of all haplotypes thus far described for the species (n = 39). All ibex populations other than those from Sierra de Loja shared haplotype EU081020, which was also the most frequent. Twenty haplotypes (80%) were present exclusively in just one population. Of the studied populations, ibex from the Sierra Nevada Natural Space had the greatest genetic diversity in this marker, which was found to harbour 17 cyt b haplotypes. Phylogenetic analyses based on the cytochrome b marker do not support the subspecific classification of this taxon proposed at the beginning of the twentieth century, although three distinct management units can be distinguished. Finally, we discuss the implications of our results on the management of this species. Although the results presented do not describe the structure of the population or the gene flow, it gives an accurate picture of the diversity of this mitochondrial marker, which can be considered a reflection of the historical processes that these populations have undergone.
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Sites corresponding to Marine Isotope Stage 5 (MIS 5) and MIS 4 like Artazu VIII, with a continental record but no hominin imprints or carnivore activities, are very scarce in the Iberian Peninsula. The Artazu VIII cave fill (Arrasate, northern Spain) was discovered in 2013 and is presented here for the first time, including detailed stratigraphic and sedimentological descriptions of the differentiated 12 levels, as well as an ordered chronology of most levels, covering at least 36,000 years. In addition, the small mammal assemblage yielded a total of 8,129 identifiable skeletal remains corresponding to 14 taxa. The conditions inferred from the ecological preferences of the small mammal associations have been correlated with four different stages and substages from MIS 5c to MIS 4 in which the woodland mass expanded and retreated, depending on the relative temperature and humidity in each period. Finally, considering the species variability and estimated palaeoenvironment, a comparison with the NGRIP δ18O curve and other sites with the same chronology has been performed, showing that Artazu VIII is one of the few deposits attributable to the Marine Isotopic Stages previously mentioned and the only one that correlates to the Greenland Interstadial 18 from the Iberian Peninsula.
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Coastal deposits are ideal archives to decipher the history of terrestrial-marine interactions in response to sea-level changes. Over the last decades, numerous investigations have been implemented to uncover the stratigraphic framework and the paleoenvironment evolution of the Jiangsu coastal plain (JCP), China. However, there have been limited studies on the sedimentary history over the glacial-interglacial timescales because of the lack of reliable chronostratigraphy. Here, we selected a 30-m-long sediment core in the northern JCP for luminescence dating, and carried out comprehensive sedimentological and paleontological analyses to ascertain the sedimentary history. Multiple luminescence dating techniques, including quartz optically-stimulated luminescence (OSL) and feldspar (polymineral) post-infrared (IR) IR stimulated luminescence (pIRIR) dating, were applied to determine the chronology of the sediment core. The obtained chronostratigraphy of core JCP01 spanning ~130 ka reveals that terrestrial deposition occurred in Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6, MIS 4–2 and the late stage of MIS 1. In contrast, marine influenced deposition is identified in MIS 5e and early MIS 1. The terrestrial interval of core JCP01 mainly consists of stiff clay and floodplain facies occurring at depths of 30–24 m, 12–5 m and 2–1 m, formed in relation to sea-level lowstands; whereas marine-influenced sediments at depths of 24–12 m and 5–2 m correspond to sea-level highstands, respectively. Our results highlight two sets of marine influenced sedimentary stratigraphy (T1, T2) dated to ~7 ka and around 130–120 ka, but no obvious MIS 3 transgression recorded in this core. In general, the conclusion is consistent with previous studies in East Asia and beyond, but not with previous work in this region that relied on radiocarbon dating. This suggests that re-dating with luminescence techniques is required for deposits correlated with the MIS 3 transgression in the northern JCP. Our reconstructed terrestrial-marine alternation sedimentary history of the northern JCP also shows a strong linkage with changes in the relative sea-level over the glacial-interglacial cycles.
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Se analizan tecno-tipológicamente las industrias líticas, mayoritariamente elaborada sobre cuarcitas, del yacimiento paleolítico al aire libre de Tarazona III (2.479 piezas líticas), formando parte de la Secuencia Paleolítica del Guadalquivir, que abarca el final del Pleistoceno Medio e inicios del Pleistoceno Superior (129 ka y <104 ka). Se identifican las cadenas operativas del yacimiento, desde la selección de materias primas hasta la fabricación de los útiles con percutor duro. Son cadenas dirigidas especialmente a la obtención de pequeñas lascas (<5 cm), lo que refuerza la selección del tamaño del canto rodado, con patrones de reducción de núcleos elementales, buena representación de los centrípetos y baja presencia del levallois. La serie de N3 es muy equilibrada y completa; y relativamente completas las de N1 y N2 lo que sugiere, o bien la preconfiguración de las cadenas operativa en otros lugares cercanos y el transporte de los productos de talla al yacimiento; o, en N1, el desplazamiento hidro-geomorfológico de las piezas de dimensiones más reducidas. La proporción útiles lasca/lasca es del 24% (N2) y 34,7% (N3), esto es, en los niveles posteriores a 104 ka BP. Esta proporción junto a la baja variabilidad de los tipos sobre lasca, la exigua o nula presencia de macroútiles, define la industria de Tarazona III, como uno de los yacimientos representativos del Paleolítico Medio Antiguo (PMA) del Valle del Guadalquivir.
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A nearly complete skeleton of an elephant calf was excavated between 2012 and 2014 from breccia deposits in a vertical karstic cavity named Cova del Rinoceront, exposed during limestone quarrying. The skeleton was found in the 120 cm-thick breccia layer III (Unit 1) of the 11 m-long sedimentary sequence filling the cavity. IRSL (128–129 ka) and AAR (126–142 ka) dating indicate that the layer was probably deposited during MIS 5e (∼115–135 ka). The diagnostic morphological traits of the occlusal surface of the molariform teeth, their position in the tooth progression and wear indicate that the skeleton belongs to a Palaeoloxodon antiquus calf about 5 years old, with a putative height at the shoulder of about 178–187 cm and a weight of about 1450–1500 kg. The sex cannot be confidently determined because the tusks were poorly preserved and the young age reduces the diagnostic value of the pelvis girdle. The rarity of calf skeletons in the fossil record of continental straight-tusked elephants renders the Cova del Rinoceront individual of great interest for better understanding the ontogenetic processes in continental straight-tusked elephants. The results obtained evidence, on the one hand, the difficulties entailed in properly assessing the ontogenetic growth process, given the low number of fully informative specimens of straight-tusked elephants known to date. On the other hand, they indicate an early beginning of distal epiphyseal fusion in humerus and tibia and of the proximal epiphysis in radius. Moreover, the nearly fused lateral epicondylus and condylus and the unfused and separate diaphysis and epiphysis on the medial side of the right femur suggest not only that fusion patterns may show high levels of intraspecific variation, but also that the process of epiphyseal fusion may vary in the homologous bones of a single individual. Notwithstanding the limitations resulting from the preservation status of the calf bones, our analysis yielded sufficient information to infer the ontogenetic age of the Cova del Rinoceront elephant, estimate its body mass and evaluate allometric growth in P. antiquus long bones. We obtained slightly different results when analysing samples that did or did not include the Cova del Rinoceront calf. In the former sample, confident isometry was limited to a few predictors but could not be excluded because for most of the independent variables, isometry and negative correlation were roughly balanced. Most of the dependent and independent variables showed the same or a similar scale ratio, but fewer responded almost similarly to bending stresses imposed by loading under their own weight. When the calf was excluded from analysis, negative or possibly negative correlations and variables responding almost similarly to bending stresses imposed by loading under their own weight prevailed. However, the hypothesis that some changes in limb bone proportions occurred during ontogenetic growth requires further support from an analysis of large samples of fully informative mature and immature P. antiquus individuals.
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FERNÁNDEZ-GARCÍa, M. Palaeoecology and biochoronology through the analyzed Late Pleistocene-Holocene rodents of the Toll cave (Moià, Catalonia, NE of the Iberian Peninsula). This paper presents the chronological, environmental and climatic data obtained when analyzing the rodent remains collected from the water-screened sediments from levels 2-4 of the "Sector Entrada" in the Toll cave (Moià, Catalonia, NE Iberian Peninsula), one of the cavities belonging to the karstic system called "Coves del Toll" (Toll Caves). From these levels, a total of 216 rodent remains corresponding to 10 rodent species has been recovered. The biochronological results show a latest Pleistocene-Holocene chronology (<35 ky BP), with Level 3 being pleistocene (>13 ky BP), and Level 2 probably holocene (<13 ky BP). The palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental data indicate an open wet forest with lower temperatures and higher precipitation than nowadays for this region. Level 3 could be correlated with the Last Glacial Maximum, while Level 2 may belong to the Preboreal period. From the comparison with data obtained in other sites with a similar chronology in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, two transitional phases can be inferred for this period. The comparison with the Teixoneres cave studies allows obtaining the climatic and environmental evolution of the surroundings of the Toll Caves between the Middle Paleolithic and the Upper Paleolithic/Neolithic. It can be asserted that both neanderthals and anatomically modern humans lived under similar climatic and environmental conditions.
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Thermoluminescence dating: By M. J. Aitken.
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Analysis of the morphology of the cheek teeth of Capra suggests that four fundamental types occur among some Late Pleistocene populations of Southern France. Two of these correspond to populations craniologically close to the caucasica-cylindricornis group and form part of the lineage leading towards pyrenaica: Portel and Bouxes. The other two succeed each other in time and correspond to the lineage towards Capra ibex ibex: Pecheurs and Adaouste. In the C.i.ibex lineage, the third lower premolar and the third upper molar are the teeth that best register the evolutionary tendency of the group, which, in the Wurmian, consists of an increase in the complexity of the lingual structure of the lower cheek teeth and a development of the metastylar "wing' of the upper M3. There is thus evidence of some geographic isolation in Provence in the final Wurmian. -English summary
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The Caprinae Hemitragus and Capra are represented during the Middle and the Upper Pleistocene by five species: H. bonali, H. cedrensis, C. ibex, C. caucasica, C. pyrenaica. Their chronological repartition is distinct and their evolution is rapid. The existence of Capra during the Lower Pleistocene is under question; the hypothesis of a primitive Hemitragus with slightly compressed and elongated horn cores is proposed. The morphome-trical analysis of the tahr populations located on the western area in France at the end of the Middle Pleistocene are attributed to H. bonali, despite resemblances with H. cedrensis. The latter is located only in the Provence area. The filiations of C. pyrenaica with C. ibex or C. caucásica are under question. Molecular genetic, palaeontology, morphology and parasitology results are controversial. The three last studies are concordant with the filia-tion C. caucasica-C. pyrenaica.
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This paper presents anthracological data from Abric del Pastor (Alcoi, Spain), a Middle Paleolithic rock shelter site. Analysis of 1077 wood charcoal remains from Stratigraphic Unit IV (S.U. IV), collected within archaeological combustion structures and from loose sediment outside of structures, allowed us to characterise the local landscape, as well as to approach the interaction between Neanderthal groups and their local environment. Taxonomic identification suggests that firewood was gathered from nearby sources, with predominance of juniper (Juniperus sp.) followed by thermophilous shrubby taxa. Additional analysis focussing on post-depositional processes affecting charcoal have shown features indicative of biodegradation and mechanical action. The results of this study contribute significant anthracological data towards our understanding of Late Pleistocene Mediterranean landscapes and Neanderthal forest management in this region.
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This paper presents the chronological, environmental and climatic data obtained when analyzing the rodent remains collected from the water-screened sediments from levels 2-4 of the “Sector Entrada” in the Toll cave (Moià, Catalonia, NE Iberian Peninsula), one of the cavities belonging to the karstic system called “Coves del Toll” (Toll Caves). From these levels, a total of 216 rodent remains corresponding to 10 rodent species has been recovered. The biochronological results show a latest Pleistocene-Holocene chronology (<35 ky BP), with Level 3 being pleistocene (>13 ky BP), and Level 2 probably holocene (<13 ky BP). The palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental data indicate an open wet forest with lower temperatures and higher precipitation than nowadays for this region. Level 3 could be correlated with the Last Glacial Maximum, while Level 2 may belong to the Preboreal period. From the comparison with data obtained in other sites with a similar chronology in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, two transitional phases can be inferred for this period. The comparison with the Teixoneres cave studies allows obtaining the climatic and environmental evolution of the surroundings of the Toll Caves between the Middle Paleolithic and the Upper Paleolithic/Neolithic. It can be asserted that both neanderthals and anatomically modern humans lived under similar climatic and environmental conditions.
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In this paper we present the chronological, environmental and climatic data obtained by analysing the remains of rodents collected from the water-screened sediments of Levels 2 and 3 of the Sector Entrada of Toll Cave (Moià, Barcelona), one of the caves belonging to the karstic system called the Coves del Toll. From these levels a total of 216 rodent remains have been recovered, corresponding to 10 rodent species. The biochronological results indicate a Late Pleistocene/Holocene chronology (<35 ka BP); Level 3 is Pleistocene (>13 ka BP), and Level 2 is probably Holocene (<13 ka BP). The palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental data denote an open wet forest with lower temperatures and higher precipitation than nowadays for this region. Level 3 could be correlated with the Last Glacial Maximum (18 ka BP), while Level 2 may belong to the Preboreal period (11.5-9.5 ka BP). From a comparison of our results with the data obtained from other sites in the northeastern Iberian Peninsula with a similar chronology, we can infer two transitional phases for this period. Finally, a comparison with studies of Teixoneres Cave allows us to deduce the climatic and environmental evolution of the area around Toll Cave between the Middle Palaeolithic and Upper Palaeolithic/Neolithic. It can be asserted that Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans lived in similar climatic and environmental conditions.
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Arnold, L. J. & Roberts, R. G. 2011: Paper I – Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of perennially frozen deposits in north−central Siberia: OSL characteristics of quartz grains and methodological considerations regarding their suitability for dating. Boreas, Vol. 40, pp. 389–416. 10.1111/j.1502-3885.2011.00209.x. ISSN 0300−9483. Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of coarse-grained quartz is increasingly being used as the main chronological tool in late Quaternary palaeoenvironmental reconstructions of Siberia. However, relatively little information has been published on the suitability of OSL dating for the various types of perennially frozen sediments found in this region. Here we provide a systematic examination of the quartz luminescence characteristics of 21 perennially frozen samples from the Taimyr Peninsula and adjacent coastal lowlands of north-central Siberia, and discuss their implications for the reliability of single-grain and multi-grain OSL chronologies in such contexts. The results of this study suggest that the quartz luminescence characteristics of these samples are, in principle, favourable for OSL dating but, in practice, require that a series of validation checks are made of the chosen experimental conditions. If these tests are satisfied, then reliable OSL chronologies should be obtained for sedimentary deposits in this region. Importantly, however, the single-grain and multi-grain aliquot equivalent dose (De) distribution characteristics for our samples reveal that there are advantages in targeting certain types of depositional settings for OSL dating studies of Siberian sediments. We also show that samples from the same depositional settings, and even from the same sites, do not necessarily display similar De distribution characteristics. The latter complication favours the use of single-grain analysis to unravel the bleaching and burial histories of young (mid- to late Holocene) sediments in these Arctic environments.
Article
The Cueva del Camino site (Pinilla del Valle, Madrid, Spain) is located in the upper valley of the Lozoya River in the Sierra de Guadarrama, a mountain range extending NE-SW within the Central Range System. Due to its location within a mountain range on the central Iberian Peninsula at an altitude of 1114 m a.s.l. and the numerical dating of its sediments, the palaeontological site of Cueva del Camino has proved a highly relevant location for studying the ecological changes linked to the climatic fluctuations at the end of Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 and the beginning of MIS 4. Environmental reconstructions suggest a rather open, patchy landscape throughout the succession, with abundant evidence of dry meadows, scrublands and rocky habitats. The climate can be considered as generally warm, reaching mean annual temperatures (MATs) of up to 13.8°C (i.e. higher than today’s by up to 2.9°C). Three cooler events can be seen throughout the succession as reflected by the presence of Rana iberica, Anguis fragilis and Coronella austriaca. The first of these events may correlate with MIS 5b; the second in the Central sector may correlate with the Stadial I pollen event occurring at the end of MIS 5a; and the third event, corresponding to the coldest MAT of the entire succession with MATs 0.9°C lower than today’s, may correspond to the transition from MIS 5a to MIS 4. The evolution of mean annual precipitation (MAP) is characterized by warm periods, drier and cold periods, as well as wetter periods (up to +356 mm compared to today’s MAP values), similar to what occurs today in the high-elevation areas of the neighbouring mountains. Our study gives new quantitative estimations for the climatic fluctuations in mountain environments of central Spain at the MIS 5/4 transition and their associated ecological changes.
Article
In this study we assess the signatures of multi-grain averaging effects for a series of sedimentary samples taken from the archaeological site of Hotel California, Atapuerca, Spain. We focus on the special case of equivalent dose (De) measurements made on single-grain discs that contain more than one quartz grain in each of the individual grain-hole positions with the aims of (i) providing insight into the nature and extent of averaging effects in very small multi-grain aliquots of sedimentary quartz, and (ii) assessing the suitability of ‘pseudo’ single-grain De measurements for this particular dating application. Pseudo single-grain OSL measurements made on standard discs loaded with 90–100 μm grains (equivalent to ∼30 grains per hole) yield significantly different De distribution characteristics and finite mixture model (FMM) burial dose estimates compared with single-grain OSL measurements. Grains with aberrant luminescence behaviours, which are routinely rejected during single-grain analysis, exert strong averaging effects on the pseudo single-grain and multi-grain aliquot De distributions. Grain-hole averaging effects arising from pseudo single-grain measurements also give rise to ‘phantom’ dose components and are apt to provide bias assessments of quartz signal characteristics and grain type classifications. Though this is a site-specific study, it serves as a cautionary note for interpretations of other pseudo single-grain OSL and De datasets – particularly those obtained from measurements of discs containing several tens of grains per hole and those derived from complex depositional environments. The use of custom single-grain discs drilled with smaller sized grain holes is recommended as a means of limiting grain-hole averaging effects when dealing with very fine (<180 μm) sediments.
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Opal phytoliths can easily be extracted from herbivore dental calculus and examined to gain data for the reconstruction of prehistoric herbivore diet. The extraction process is a simple, quick and inexpensive three-step procedure. It consists of one or two distilled water washes to control and assess contamination and a final wash with dilute hydrochloric acid. A pilot study conducted on barnyard animals (cow, sheep and pig) from the American Colonial period site of Hampton, Virginia, demonstrates that dental calculus phytolith assemblages can provide data on herbivore diet that can be used to reconstruct livestock management practices and ecological change.